Building the Beloved Community
On January 16, a group of Messiah College students remembered the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by touring and serving the Harrisburg community in his honor. As part of the Community Engagement Day, students partnered with several organizations, including the Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church and the Paxton Ministries, an organization that provides affordable housing, food, and support to low- income and disadvantaged adults. Students rolled
up their sleeves for some much-needed painting
at the church and spent time getting to know the
residents of the Paxton home, taking a hands-on approach to furthering King’s dream.
This daylong service event kicked off the College’s inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week. This year, the week’s theme focused on the idea that we are “Called to Build the Beloved Community in a Violent World.” Lawrence Burnley, associate dean of multicultural programs and special assistant to the provost for diversity affairs, who organized the event with a committee of faculty and staff, envisioned the week as a “time to reflect upon and recommit ourselves to God’s call for justice” and to “acknowledge the legacy, ministry, and vision of one of the premier Christian leaders of our time,” a man whose work and leadership moved the conscience of a nation.
Calling the Messiah community to continuing action, Rufus Burrow Jr., professor of theological social ethics at Christian Theological Seminary, gave the week’s keynote chapel address, challenging the students, faculty, and staff of the College to inten-tionally pursue King’s dream and to make Messiah
a microcosm of the “Beloved Community.”
In addition, the week featured other events
and culminated in a musical celebration, entitled “Continuing the Legacy,” which was held in Larsen Student Union. Messiah’s radio and television stations also contributed to the festivities by broadcasting some of King’s speeches throughout their weekly
— Devin Thomas ’09