“On this significant day of remembrance, we celebrate the unwavering commitment to equality for all and the incredible strides made by Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, we also know that we have so very far to go to achieve the ideals espoused by this iconic leader. Step by step, person by person, and justice act by justice act may we continue in the footsteps of our historic American Baptist leader,” said Acting General Secretary C. Jeff Woods in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In 2018, American Baptist leaders and individuals commemorated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader and Baptist minister, Dr. King. Members of American Baptist Churches USA journeyed from all over the country to participate in the ACT to End Racism Rally in Washington, D.C. Organized by the National Council of Churches and its affiliated denominations, the day-long event focused on the continuing need for racial justice in our country. Learn more here.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s identification with American Baptists led to a resolution adopted by the former American Baptist General Board. Learn about the history and the resolution, below.
American Baptists and the Legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1986 was the first year in which Dr. King’s birthday was recognized as a national holiday. Because of his identification with American Baptists, our denomination continues to have a unique opportunity and responsibility to keep before ourselves and the rest of the nation the deep roots of the Christian faith which were the foundation and inspiration of his philosophy and action.
Dr. King was a committed Christian and a Baptist. He graduated from Crozier Theological Seminary. His teachings and actions were based on biblical ideas as interpreted by Baptist tradition. His life reminds us of the struggles for freedom in our heritage.
The theme of justice was foundational to Dr. King’s actions and was based on the concept that all persons are valued and are precious to God. Through the years, American Baptists have been committed to justice as they have worked with people who have been hurt by the injustices in our society and around the world. Today that theme continues to be a priority in American Baptist programming.
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.