Word of the Week

My Week of MLK

robert-sengstacke-martin-luther-king-dreamWhile I have several memorable moments of celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, especially when I lived in Birmingham, AL (singing "We Shall Overcome" alongside people of all races at 16th Street Baptist Church in 2002 is a lifetime moment I'll never forget), this week has been for me one of the most MLK focused weeks I've ever had.

This eventful week began as I attended the MLK Community Celebration in Reston on Sunday afternoon. Washington Plaza choir was asked to participate along with several other community members and two other church choirs. (I have to stop here and brag a minute about our choir- they are really good! Their pastor is so proud of them as seen below).


As testimonials were shared and spirituals were sung, what stood out to me about the program was the spirit of the gathering. Everyone was so happy to be there. And, while I know all of the mood could be contributed to the upcoming inauguration, I think it was about something more. The community came together to talk about justice and the hope that is found for our nation when we work together. People greeted one another afterwards in the spirit of MLK. After being introduced as Washington Plaza's new pastor, I received hugs and well-wishes from all kinds of new friends. Great stuff!

But on Tuesday, after watching the historical events of the day unfold in my backyard, I was on a plane headed to Atlanta to participate in the third installment of the Lewis Fellows meetings along with these colleges pictured below. (To read more about what this is, click here).


The theme of this gathering has been on being a leader of change. How is that we as pastors lead congregations into becoming their best selves in healthy ways? Several of the experiences we have studied have gone back to the pastoral leadership found within the Civil Rights Movement, especially as Atlanta provides us with so many great resources.

As part of the activities, this afternoon my pastoral colleagues and I had the opportunity to tour the King Center and a group of us were also lucky enough to tour Martin Luther King's childhood home. We also met with the church senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and talked with him about the legacy of faith MLK has left his congregation and how he is working on leading effective change now.

In all my MLK related learning moments today, I was impressed by how many ways the movement of Civil Rights lives and must continue to live on. While there is equality in voting, bus seats, education "on paper," there is still so much to be done. It was good to hear how Ebenezer Baptist is continuing to live into its historical roots as an social justice driven church through projects such as Katrina relief, for example.

All in all, I am thankful for the many ways, I've been reminded of saints of the past and the struggles yet to come.  It has been good to thank God for such pillars of faith like MLK who courageously spoke the truth even when the promise land of justice for all seemed like an impossible dream.

I am looking forward to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day next year already!