Resources now available for congregations holding Martin Luther King, Jr. services next month

Congregations are invited to use resources to commemorate and celebrate MLK’s life and legacy

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

LOUISVILLE — The pandemic of 2020 has further exposed disparities in healthcare and social justice and the wealth gap that exists in America. These glaring issues make the works and the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just as relevant today as they were in the 1950s and 1960s.

On Jan. 18, 2021, the nation will celebrate and commemorate King’s life and legacy. To assist congregations in this celebration, the Presbyterian Mission Agency is making worship resources available for download.

The online service for the Presbyterian Center in Louisville will be held at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

King once said that “power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic,” according to the Rev. Shanea Leonard, Associate for Gender and Racial Justice in Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love,” Leonard said.

“We hope that the 2021 service will impart this important message to those taking part in the worship experience,” Leonard said. “We hope that Dr. King’s words will cause individuals to stop and recognize that each of us must use our power and privilege in ways that make this country a better place for all Americans regardless of the color of their skin.”

Congregations may download the worship resources that include three options for a call to worship, two options for an opening litany, an opening prayer by the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, a litany of confession by Leonard, a prayer of confession, and a litany of confession and lament.

In her litany of confession, Leonard wrote, “We confess that we have allowed racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to often dictate how we exist.”

Additional resources include a song of repentance, such as “Lord, have Mercy”; a call of repentance and new life; and an affirmation of faith, all adapted from the Confession of Belhar. The prayer of response, prayer of commitment and the recommitment to justice are either written by King or adapted from his writings.

Other hymn suggestions for the service are from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (WJKP, 2013) (GTG) and  The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs (WJKP, 1990) (PH)

Come Now, O Prince of Peace (GTG 103)

Freedom Is Coming (GTG 359)

Goodness Is Stronger than Evil (GTG 750)

Heaven Shall Not Wait (GTG 773)

I’m Gonna Eat at the Welcome Table (GTG 770)

Lift Every Voice and Sing (GTG 339, PH 563)

O for a World (GTG 372, PH 386)

O God, We Bear the Imprint of Your Face (GTG 759)

Praise Ye the Lord (GTG 633, PH 258)

Precious Lord, Take My Hand (GTG 834, PH 404)

Somos el cuerpo de Cristo (GTG 768)

We Shall Overcome (GTG 379)

Click this link to find all of the resources for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., service.


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