Eastern Mennonite University will join a global bell-tolling ceremony on Wednesday, April 4, to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
At 7:05 EST, EMU community members will ring the bell outside Lehman Auditorium 39 times, symbolic of King’s years of life.
The ringing is part of a global commemoration ceremony organized by the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the site of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.
At the museum, the bells will ring at 6:01 CDT, the time when the fatal shot was fired.
Bells in the city of Memphis will ring two minutes later, followed by locations in the United States, synchronised across time zones at five minutes after the hour.
At seven minutes after the hour, bells will ring in major cities around the world: London, Berlin, Johannesburg, Athens, Moscow, Mumbai, Beijing and Tokyo.
The ceremony is designed to symbolize how “the news of King’s death was first known in Memphis and then rippled throughout the country and across the globe,” according to a museum press release.
“We invite churches in our community to join this commemoration or come to EMU for this solemn moment to acknowledge the loss of one of history’s greatest peacemakers,” said Professor Melody Pannell, chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
At EMU, the commemoration will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Thomas Plaza with readings, reflections and the singing of one of King’s favorite hymns, followed by tolling of the bells. EMU’s Campus Ministries and Black Student Union will host the event.
Earlier in the day, from 10-10:30 a.m. at the regular Wednesday chapel service in Lehman Auditorium, students and staff who participated in the second annual Civil Rights Tour over spring break will lead worship. They will be joined by the gospel choir.
Organizations who wish to join in the tolling or wish to view a livestream of the event can register with the National Civil Rights Museum.