Martin Luther King Jr. weekend -- Jan. 15-17, 2022 -- has been a time to celebrate Dr. King’s life and remember how his work in the Civil Rights Movement prepared the foundation for dismantling racism. This year, due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, observances have been moved online or scheduled for later this winter.
In Western Pennsylvania, the Greensburg District Antiracism Team prepared the virtual service virtual service shown above. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi offered the message, asking What Has Come of Our Dreams? The service is an online adaption of an annual service launched several years ago by the District in partnership with the Pittsburgh District. Offerings benefit the Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund established by the Greensburg District. Read Bishop Moore-Koikoi's message.
Other Events Honoring Dr. King
Rev. Debra Mason, Conference Coordinator of Diversity Development and Inclusion and pastor of John Wesley UMC in Washington, PA, served as mistress of ceremonies for the Washington NAACP's virtual Martin Luther King tribute on Sunday, Jan. 16.In opening remarks, Dr. Andrew Goudy, president of Washington NAACP, noted recent efforts in several states to pass voting laws making it harder for people of color to vote, noting that Dr. King spent better part of his life fighting for the right to vote. "If he were here today, what would he think?” Dr. Goudy asked. Read more about the event
Erie Inter-Church Ministries' Dr. Martin Luther King Day event, scheduled for January 30, will be hosted by Trinity UMC in Erie. Erie-Meadville DS Dennis Swineford will participate.
In the Pittsburgh District,Lift Every Voice, a celebration of Black history, culture and worship, originally scheduled for February 6 at historic Warren UMC, was postponed until June 12.
On Monday, January 17, in lieu of their traditional in-person worship service, the Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project for Peace organized an Inter-Faith Prayer Motorcade in which participants will drive together throughout Wilkinsburg borough, stopping to pray for peace, love, justice, and unity.
On Monday, January 17, the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Pittsburgh and Vicinity sponsored the 2022 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Virtual Observance was aired on the Conference’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and website. The Rev. Dr. Asa Lee, president of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was the preacher.
The Johnstown NAACP Branch is partnering with Christ Centered Community Church to present their 37th Annual Interfaith Remembrance Program in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Because of heavy snowfall, the event was postponed until 3 p.m. Feb. 13 at Christ Centered Community Church, 531 Somerset St., Johnstown. This year's theme is "The Urgency of NOW" and the event will feature a special concert by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (JSO). playing a selection of music written by black composers for Dr. King both during his lifetime and after his death.In-person attendees will be limited to 100, but a recording will be posted online.
Action for Racial Justice
Dr. King gave his life to the cause of civil rights from the mid-1950s to 1968, when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. He led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the goal of desegregating society. Dr. King’s speeches and writings decry racism. While some progress had been made, there is a widening disconnect between Dr. King’s call for racial justice and actions across this country, including in Western Pennsylvania churches and communities. Not only is implicit bias -- unconscious racism -- a reality, but symbols of white supremacy have become more prevalent in public events over the past several years, including at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
One way to honor Dr. King's legacy and learn more about dismantling racism is for individuals or small groups to sign up to take an online course addressing specific topics around racism and race relations. The General Commission on Religion and Race offers several online classes that can help Christians become better anti-racist advocates:
In 2022, the King family suggested another way to honor Dr. King's legacy: Supporting legislation to uphold the right to vote. Two bills - the Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (S.4) - have been introduced in the U.S. Senate to make sure that the right to vote is protected. More information and how to take action are on the United Methodist Board of Church and Society's website. Find the details at www.umcjustice.org/what-you-can-do/advocacy/take-action/take-action-uphold-the-right-to-vote
MLK Day/weekend traditionally has been set aside as a time of service. Many churches host drives, meal services, work projects or other community outreach ministries to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Some continued despite COVID-19. The unique social and economic challenges the pandemic has brought on many communities mean that the hands and feet of Christ are needed now more than ever.
In United Methodist churches, Sunday, Jan. 16 is also Human Relations Sunday, a day that calls all our churches to participate in helping all God’s children to realize their potential. Many congregations receive special offerings to fund ministries that nurture at-risk youth, strengthen communities’ self-improvement efforts and advocate for the oppressed.