Martin Luther King Jr.'s belief in a 'beloved community' — a community characterized by justice, equality, and love — was deeply rooted in his Christian faith.
As Michael Eric Dyson notes, "He saw faith as a tool for change, a constant source of inspiration to remake the world in the just and redemptive image of God."
King was mindful of the power and responsibility of the church in healing the divides of society. He was also well aware of challenges hindering churches themselves. On March 31, 1968 — only days before his assassination — the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. uttered these words in a sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.: “We must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”1
As United Methodists, our foundational belief in the sacred worth of all persons compels us to "work toward societies in which each person's value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened" (Social Principles, The Social Community, "Rights of Racial and Ethnic Persons," United Methodist Book of Discipline).
Acknowledging, celebrating and discussing Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is a step forward in the pursuit of this belief. As Bishop Woodie White says in his 2017 letter to King, "Our goal... is not merely a better, more just America. We Christians strive for a more beloved community, for what we sometimes call the reign of God."
Every third Monday in January (this year, Jan. 17), Americans observe a solemn day of remembering King. The day offers time both to celebrate of the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and to reflect and reaffirm of the principles of equality, justice and racial reconciliation for which King stood.
The United Methodist Church calls upon congregations and annual conferences across the United States to honor of King’s legacy and also to address contemporary issues of injustice in society.
From Resource UMC.