It almost sounded like Martin Luther King Jr. was at the podium, his gift of powerful oratory resounding across Lehman Auditorium at Eastern Mennonite University.
Derrick Parson, campus pastor with the Wesley Foundation at neighboring James Madison University, drew excerpts from several of the late minister and civil rights leader’s memorable speeches in a chapel program Monday, Jan. 17, to formally open King Week activities at EMU.
Speaking extemporaneously but with great feeling, Parsons reflected on King’s life and legacy and his view of reconciliation.
Quoting the scripture, “to whom much is given, much will be required,” he said that King truly believed this and lived it out.
“Martin believed that unqualified love and forgiveness could change the world, turning enemies into friends,” Parsons said. “He prayed forgiveness on those who opposed him and his message.”
Noting that King wrote six books and scores of articles in his 13 years of public ministry after completing graduate school at age 26, Parsons encouraged his audience to read King’s writings “to see how he reflected the live and teachings of Christ’s reconciling love.”
Parsons closed by giving from memory the speech that King wrote for his own funeral in 1968, calling on his audience to “ask how you can make a difference in our world by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The campus ministries department at EMU joined hands with the multicultural services office to plan a combined spring Spiritual Life/Martin Luther King Week. Activities on the program theme, “Worship and Walk Side by Side,” will continue through Friday, Jan. 21, and include a coffeehouse, panel discussions, an “agape” meal, film showing, a candlelight worship service and communion.