Liturgical guides, sermon helps and historic documents revive spirit of Civil Rights leader
by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service
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 September 21, 1966 speech where three thousand 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 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:
- Presbyterian Peacemaking liturgy for Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration
- Presbyterian Church Racial-Ethnic Liturgy for Martin Luther King Day
- Liturgy for Race Relations Sunday
- The African-American Lectionary has sermon helps, prayers, and quotations
- The Text This Week lists other helpful resources for preachers and worship leaders.
- MLK Quotations You May Use Liturgically
- Video of the “I Have a Dream” Speech, August 28, 1963, March on Washington, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. You can find the full, printable text of the speech here.
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.
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.