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The legacy of Martin Luther King

· Ecumenical conference in Memphis on the fight against poverty and racism ·

Poverty and racism: this is the theme of the annual conference sponsored by the ecumenical organization Christian Churches Together (CCT) in the United States. The meeting will be held 14-17 February in Memphis. The location is not random since it was chosen to underline their commitment to memorializing Christians who fought against discrimination and poverty, such as Martin Luther King, assassinated in Memphis. These Christians represent precious authorities on the ecumenical path, especially in the spirit of sharing the heritage of “the martyrs” who were part of different Christian traditions, who thus discovered they were united through the common witness of faith in Christ.

The Catholic Church, as it has been recognized many times by CCT, has made a significant contribution in this dimension of ecumenical dialogue beginning with the celebrations of the Jubilee Year of 2000. Rediscovering these memory makes up a fundamental component for ecumenical dialogue which must be nourished by mutually experiencing the locations to which these memories are connected. For this reason, Richard L. Hamm, executive director of CCT, describing the meeting, highlighted that it will include several visits to various sites from the life of Martin Luther King: from the Civil Rights Museum, where it is possible to follow the most important moments of the difficult path take by Christians defending human rights on the front lines, to The Mason Temple, where King gave his final sermon the night before he was killed.

These visits make up a fundamental part of the meeting which dedicates ample time to the witness of those who personally knew or studied Martin Luther King and it intends to foster an ever greater understanding of the work of this witness of Christianity in the 20th century. The meeting opens with an address by  Bernard LaFayette on King's work in the battle for civil rights.  LaFayette, who as a young student worked for a long time with the leader of the civil rights movement and was co-founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was asked to emphasize, King's non-violent commitment through an ecumenical prospective. King's commitment was founded especially on Christian values which he drew from daily Scripture reading through an “a modernizing exegesis” which still represents an important source of ecumenical dialogue.

It is precisely to this biblical element of King's work which Albert Raboteau, originally from Mississippi, dedicates his address. Raboteau is currently a lecturer at Princeton in New Jersey and previously taught at Yale,  Berkeley and Harvard. It is the duty of  Raboteau, member of the Orthodox Church in America, to retrace various meaningful texts by King in order to highlight the biblical roots of the ecumenical commitment that is manifested in the fight against every form of violence in the name of respecting the work of creation.

It is the duty of Raboteau, currently a lecturer at Princeton in New Jersey and previously at Yale,  Berkeley and Harvard as well as member of the Orthodox Church in America, to retrace various meaningful texts by King in order to highlight the biblical roots of the ecumenical duty  that is manifested in the fight against every form of violence in the name of respecting the work of creation.

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