Twice Tested by Fire: A Memoir of Faith and Service
Cecil L. “Chip” Murray
Figueroa Press, 2012
The fellowship of Christians generally and the Black Church specifically have an obligation beyond the walls of the sanctuary. Our endangered communities are lost unless the churches in their midst help to provision the journey toward a new life. Personal salvation must be of a piece with social salvation…for only then is the Word made flesh.
One day in the early 1950s, when Cecil Chip Murray was a young officer stationed at Oxnard Air Force Base in California, the warplane he was in caught fire after an aborted takeoff attempt. Murray tried to escape, but the glass canopy over his head failed to open. As flames began to consume the plane s nosecone, he heard a clear, steady voice guiding him to disentangle himself from his equipment and squeeze through a tiny hatch in the rear of the plane.
Four decades later, that same voice which had led him from the military to the pulpit of one of the most vibrant congregations in Los Angeles sent him into the streets as a prophet and peacemaker during six days of burning, rioting and looting that marked one of the most destructive episodes of urban violence in U.S. history. Twice Tested By Fire is Rev. Murray’s chronicle of the inspiration as well as the challenges that shaped a ministry widely credited with helping to heal a fractured metropolis. His insights into the legacy of the Civil Rights era, faith-based community organizing and socially engaged Christianity provide timely instruction to a new generation rising to the task of ensuring that the American dream of equality and justice for all is not forgotten.
Cecil Murray is a university fellow with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.