Each January, Americans take the time to reflect on the extraordinary life and work of Civil Rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born on Jan. 15, 1929. This January, the Shenandoah community will honor Dr. King and his extraordinary vision of service to others with a variety of events on and off-campus.
The celebration begins on Saturday, Jan. 19, with National Day of Service, an initiative founded by President Barack Obama that encourages service to others as a lifelong commitment—whether at the school, community, city, state or national level. Americans are encouraged to find an event locally and serve with others in their communities.
“The National Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social issues—such as poverty—and moves us all closer to Dr. King’s vision,” said Mike Madden, Americorps VISTA representative, who works with Shenandoah’s Center for Public Service and Scholarship and Our Health. “It transforms Dr. King’s life and teachings into community action.”
On Sunday, Jan. 20, the University Chapel @ Noon in Goodson Chapel/Recital Hall will focus on Dr. King’s sermon, “Love Your Enemies,” featuring scholar, activist and international lecturer Marcus Briggs-Cloud of the Maskoke Nation, who will also speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Service of Remembrance service on Monday, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m. in Goodson Chapel/Recital Hall, with music provided by the Harambee Gospel Choir.
Briggs-Cloud sits on several boards and committees that seek to protect the rights of indigenous peoples globally. He has served as an indigenous spokesperson at the United Nations and has lectured in 16 countries. In 2011, he was nominated for two Native American Music Awards for his Maskoke hymn album “Pum Vculvke Vrakkuecetv” (To Honor Our Elders). A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Briggs-Cloud’s academic concentrations intersect liberation theology, gender theory, linguistics and post-coloniality.
On Monday, Jan. 21, AmeriCorps VISTA representatives, in collaboration with the Center for Public Service & Scholarship, Our Health and the Office of Spiritual Life, will sponsor Remember. Unite. Serve. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Brandt Student Center. Individuals can volunteer to help Winchester non-profit agencies by stuffing envelopes or assembling packages. Our Health organizations will set up stations throughout the main hallway. Participants can also sign up with Volunteer Hub, an online volunteer registration program that connects people to community agencies with specific needs.
Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and the televisions in the Brandt Student Center will be tuned to the event. The inauguration theme, “Faith in America’s Future,” will commemorate the United States’ perseverance and unity, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome in 1863. President Obama will give his inaugural address.
“Dr. King’s vision was always a service vision,” said Madden. “There’s a quote used by Americorps that states, ‘Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.’ As we look across the globe, we realize all people need to be honored, and their rights need to be protected, regardless of ethnicity, gender, gender preference, religious affiliations or non-religious affiliations. I think that was really Dr. King’s message. All human beings deserve certain inalienable rights. Hopefully, as we engage in service to our community, we get to see the opportunities we have to bring those rights to fruition.”
The Office of Spiritual Life, in partnership with Interfaith Youth Corps, works to bring together young people of different religious and moral traditions for cooperative service and dialogue around shared values.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life in service of other people,” said Rev. DeLyn Celec, campus minister and worship arts coordinator. “His kind message of tolerance and acceptance unites us to serve people of all faiths and needs, and to regard each other with respect and dignity. It encourages us to put our faith into action, whatever our faith may be.”
For information about community service opportunities related to Martin Luther King Day, contact AmeriCorps VISTA representative Mike Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-539-9336. For information about Office of Spiritual Life programs honoring Dr. King, contact the Office of Spiritual Life at 540/535-3546.