In the 1950s, MFSA came under attack during the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Labeled “Methodism’s Pink Fringe” by an essay in Reader’s Digest, MFSA was also asked to no longer be the Church’s voice for social justice. With no apportionment funds from the general Church and no strong support from the denomination, MFSA was buffered by the work of Lee and Mae Ball. Noting the importance of an independent advocate for social change in the Church, Lee and Mae kept MFSA’s voice alive by knocking on parsonage doors, participating in civil rights protests, corresponding with prison inmates, and publishing the Social Questions Bulletin (now The Progressive Voice). By 1973, when Rev. George McClain became the executive director of MFSA, the foundation laid by Lee and Mae Ball allowed for renewal and revival of a network of justice-seekers in both the Church and world.

Lee and Mae were never content to remain within the walls of a Church building because they knew they could only find Jesus in the company of the poor and oppressed. They engaged those who were “spiritual, but not religious” long before the Church had words to describe such a belief. 

Due in great part to the efforts of Lee and Mae Ball, MFSA was there “when we needed it,” and so our highest honor, The Lee and Mae Ball Award, has been given in their memory since 1975 to those whose resilient work is a model of God’s grace and hope for a justice-seeking Church and world.

Please complete the online nominations form by July 1, 2015. We will present The Ball Award at Gather at the River.

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