On August 28, 2013, we recognized the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” address that continues to inspire today.
1986 was the first year in which Dr. King’s birthday was recognized as a national holiday, and American Baptist Churches USA is proud to celebrate and remember this storied leader in the Civil Rights movement.
In August, ABCUSA General Secretary A. Roy Medley shared a pastoral reflection about the anniversary. Part of this reflection is below:
“This march was the high-water mark in the Civil Rights movement. As we mark this moment in history, I am grateful that throughout the Civil Rights struggle American Baptists were actively involved in the effort to create a more just and loving society.
[The] anniversary celebrations mark both how far we have come and yet, how far short of Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community we have fallen. Since the March on Washington, real gains have been made. Whatever gains we have made have come at great cost to many who sacrificed much for Dr. King’s vision. Today an African-American occupies the highest office in the country, an idea that was unthinkable apart from the struggle of many. Yet sober reflection must acknowledge that Dr. King’s dream is only partially realized. Underneath outward signs of progress lie layers of distrust and dis-ease and a questioning of the fairness of our systems for people of color. These are matters we seldom address in conversation with each other across the lines of race. And intra-racial conversations – black with black, white with white, brown with brown – reveal very different perceptions of the “American experience” 50 years after Dr. King’s address.
…American Baptists were a strong force for change in the Civil Rights movement. American Baptists can be a strong force for justice today. As the hands and feet of Christ, let us fulfill Christ’s command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves through our work for a society that does justice and loves mercy as the expression of our walking humbly with God and neighbor.”
A. Roy Medley
General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA
History and the Resolution
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s identification with American Baptists led to a resolution adopted by the former American Baptist General Board. The resolution is below. Click here to read more about this history.
In recognition of and gratitude for the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in awareness that it is important to keep his ideas before us and our nation and in recognition that he was an American Baptist minister, the General Board of the American Baptist Churches USA:
1. Calls upon all American Baptists to celebrate annually Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by:
a. thanking God for the life and witness of Dr. King.
b. participating in biblical study, reflection/action about the love ethic as exemplified in Dr. King’s writing and actions.
c. retelling and keeping alive the story of Dr. King’s faithful courage and struggles for freedom as a challenge to our ongoing ministries.
d. witnessing in the midst of the secular community, as American Baptists or in concert with other people of faith, to the biblical principles of Dr. King’s message so that these will be highlighted as the broader community celebrates Dr. King’s birthday.
2. Calls upon the national boards, the regions, and the churches of the American Baptist Churches USA to provide appropriate events and resources to support and challenge American Baptists as they recognize and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.