From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:32:52


                   MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 
                       By Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Pastors and representatives from more than 150 
churches in Kentucky and southern Indiana were among those who 
paused Jan. 13 at the Presbyterian Center to celebrate the life and 
contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  
       The interdenominational event featured gospel music and 
excerpts from King's speeches by Center staff members. 
       Attracting building employees, visitors and special guests, 
the program was arranged by the Racial Ethnic Ministries Office and 
the General Assembly Council (GAC). 
       "We are grateful for all who are here," said the Rev. Frank 
Diaz, associate director for GAC operations. "Your presence adds 
even more meaning to this worship experience." 
       Speaker for the event was the Rev. Faida Alma W. Alexander, 
associate minister of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville. 
       A prominent minister, NAACP leader and religious teacher, 
Alexander said that, like King, everyone should make the most of 
their lives by realizing life on earth is only temporary and that 
only what people do in the service of God remains eternal.                      
       "Martin Luther King understood the brevity of life," Alexander 
said. "He made the most of his life and understood that true wisdom 
is the fear of the Lord and the shunning of evil." 
       But despite civil rights advances in the United States, said 
Alexander, much work remains in the struggle for racial and ethnic 
justice and the elimination of racism that King committed his life 
       For example, according to a 1993 study on African Americans, 
every 92 seconds a black baby is born into poverty; every seven 
minutes a black infant is born to a mother who had late or no 
prenatal care; and every four hours a black child is murdered. 
       "The late Martin Luther King said there is little hope for us 
until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the 
shackles of prejudice, half-truth and downright ignorance and 
poverty," said the Rev. Syngman Rhee, associate director for 
ecumenical partnership in the Worldwide Ministries Division.                    
       Several staff members described the reality and consequences 
of racism, information that stemmed from World Council of Churches 
(WCC) and National Council of Churches (NCC) hearings on racism as 
a violation of human rights and a follow-up forum on the hearings 
that was held Oct. 25 (see News Briefs, Nov. 4, 1994, #94428). 
       Other participants in the service recounted stories of racism, 
classism, sexism, teachings and other practices that discriminate 
against American minorities and women. 
       "This culture seems to thrive on hurting and exploiting people 
who are not of the dominant structure whoever they are," said the 
Rev. Eugene Turner, director of governing body, ecumenical and 
agency relations in the Office of the General Assembly. 
       "America must change because about 28 million black people 
will no longer live supinely in a wretched past," Alexander said. 
"When the poor and despised of the 20th century ... fight for 
justice, secure peace and obtain an abundance of justice for all 
.. then the Christian era will truly begin." 
                          # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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