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January ‘Facing Racism’ resources celebrate legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Liturgical guides, sermon helps and historic documents revive spirit of Civil Rights leader

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. (Photo via WikiMedia Commons)

LOUISVILLE — In January 2017, remembering his legacy and recalling the “Dr. King’s Unfinished Agenda” conference (PNS stories #1, #2 and #3) at the Montreat Conference Center, Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), urged the church to work to stand against “racism, poverty, war, and materialism” by issuing the “MLK Weekend: A Call to Action” letter.

As part of the denomination’s “Facing Racism” campaign, this commemoration and call to action recalled a turning point in the struggle for Civil Rights and the inclusion of a broad swath of mainline Protestants, including Presbyterians, in the work of creating what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”

Key events include a Sept. 21, 1966, speech where 3,000 people packed the Hartley-Woods Gymnasium of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Presbyterian Historical Society uncovered a tape of this recording at the seminary, along with his August 1965 speech at Montreat and another recording of a 1967 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Associates radio program, which are available for listening at this link.

Additional MLK Day resources include:

Acting on the directive of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the communication agencies of the denomination’s six agencies have joined together to produce and promote antiracism resources for the church.

The website serves as a starting point for the dissemination of resources and offers a link to subscribe to receive regular updates on newly available materials and calls to action.

General Assembly referral 11-22/#06 gives instruction to “Direct the national church agencies to jointly formulate a communications plan to share antiracism resources and create an electronic campaign to send information on antiracism resources and trainings to mid councils, congregations, and Presbyterian-affiliated institutions.”

“Because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against, and work against racism. Antiracist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” (p. 2, Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community, Churchwide Antiracism Policy).

The publication of Facing Racism resources began March 21, 2017, and will conclude with the 223rd General Assembly meeting in June 2018. A bi-monthly email will highlight various antiracism resources available for use in congregations and presbyteries and will include a call to action and a schedule of upcoming events.

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