The prophetic witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for justice and peace embodies the spirit of the Social Creed, the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church and the inclusiveness of our denomination. His words continue to inspire and guide our commitment to the whole Gospel:
“We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Was not Jesus an extremist for love-‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice-‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ-‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist-‘Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God.’ Was not John Bunyan an extremist-‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist-‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist-‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice-or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime-the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day enriches and strengthens our social witness today.
Therefore, be it resolved, that each annual conference observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with appropriate services of commemoration in recognition of Dr. King; and on that day we strongly recommend that we close the bishops’ office, all conference offices, all district offices, all local church offices, and, where feasible, business offices of church-related institutions; and that we support local activities surrounding the celebration of Dr. King’s life and ministry; that we encourage local school districts not to hold classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day; and that if local school districts hold classes, we encourage them to use Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate Dr. King’s work and address the need for the continuing struggle for justice.
Amended and Readopted 2004 and 2008
resolution #61, 2004 book of resolutions
resolution #55, 2000 book of resolutions
See Social Principles, ¶ 162A.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church – 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.