Dear Oprah:

Just dropping a note to let you know how powerful your finale was. It was, in fact, a testimony and sermon to the power and grace of God. I marveled at the connection of your life story to the faith tradition. A tradition of those whose decedents overcame chattel slavery and legal discrimination. What a triumph of spirit and faith with perseverance. I am fulfilled as a human being to be a part of that spiritual tradition myself. It has been my life’s calling to work as a pastor of an inner-city congregation for close to 20 years in West Garfield Park. We’re just 20 blocks west of Harpo Studios. My folks were part of the latter great migration to Chicago from Amory, Mississippi. I have experienced the joy of a calling that is both local and global, and temporal and eternal. We have long considered you a Chicago Westsider, like us in West Garfield Park. I thought it providential that the jury case you served on several years ago gave you further depth as a neighbor.

My Sunday sermon from the Memorial Day weekend began a three-part series on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5: 9-12 – The peacemakers, the persecuted, and the redemptive sufferers are all yet blessed.

The full satisfaction you exuded on your final taping, and the witness of countless others in redemptive history, is because you and they embraced these beatitudes. We felt your spirit as you shared in the spirit of the ancestors who hoped against hope through unspeakable horrors. What a message you shared. What a service you rendered. What a light you have let shine in a dark world. God has brought us from a mighty long way, indeed. What a benediction you gave to cap off 25 years of faithfulness to the call. To God Be The Glory.

Rev. Marshall Hatch
Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church in West Garfield Park