In December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in a bus and to move to the area reserved for Blacks. A bus boycott followed. It was the start of a broad-based African-American civil rights movement in the southern states of the USA, with the
aim of ending segregation. Baptist pastor Martin Luther King was the most well-known face of this movement. 50 years ago, on 4 April 1968, he was shot in Memphis.
Generations of school students in Germany have read the story of Rosa Parks in their English books. Martin Luther King’s nonviolence has impressed and enthused many young people. In view of the appalling injustice in the world, this nonviolent approach has led to heated debates about the right way of working towards greater global justice.
Who is Martin Luther King today, in 2018? A hero, a model, a myth or only a historical figure?
Martin Luther King‘s story still moves our hearts. It recalls that Christian faith cannot be lived without a nonviolent, straightforward commitment to peace, justice and human rights. It encourages us to keep on uncovering cases of victimization. It inspires us to give peaceful conflict resolution priority over the use of force. Martin Luther King is part of a story of the resistance that is necessary in order–in every age anew-to envision and move towards a just and peaceful world.
This evening prayer commemorating the death of Martin Luther King is a joint project. Contributors from the United States come from the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On the German side they represent the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK), the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD) and the Evangelical Church in
Germany (EKD). The service leaflet contains the orders of worship in both English and German, which will be of assistance for bilingual prayers.
I hope that these suggestions motivate you to hold evening prayers in memory of Martin Luther King.
Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber
Head of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Ministries Abroad in the EKD Church Office
Hanover, January 2018
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