While the holiday honors the memory of the Baptist minister and champion of racial justice and equality who recieved the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, it has grown to become not only a day of commemoration, but also a day of service since it was first celebrated as a national holiday 30 years ago.
The testimony of Dr. King’s life—jailed 29 times, he endured threats, beatings and bombings, ultimately paying the highest price for his advocacy—is so powerful his story continues to inspire hope for the change that unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness can bring.
“Our world today is filled with hostile speech and hostile actions,” Haggray says. “King advocated for a change in the human heart that would steer our society, including the perpetrators of violent aggression, away from violent activity. These timeless words of Dr. King should be heard today: ‘At the center of nonviolence stands the principles of love. In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns…Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate.’”
A compilation of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ staff reflections about this man who led by example is available at abhms.org, along with a resource list from the Baptist Center for Ethics with links to articles and videos that illuminate the King story.
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American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.