During my senior year in high school, we read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from A Birmingham Jail in our English class. As part of a class project, we planned and led an assembly for other seniors on the yearning for peace and the rationale behind non-violent protest. Looking back that was a bold undertaking in small-town Ohio. I am grateful for the teachers, who trusted teenagers to be critical thinkers.

Today we mark the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a federal holiday. Some will spend this day engaging in a service project or gathering with us in an act of recommitment to the legacy of this national leader. I hope you will at least pause to take stock of where your own life perspective has been stretched and expanded; your own reckoning with what is real and just in the world around us.

A year before his death, not long before that senior class project, Martin Luther King, Jr. examined the role of technology in the global community in a book entitled, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?  He wrote: “Our hope for creative living in this world house that we have inherited lies in our ability to re-establish the moral ends of our lives in personal character and social justice. Without this spiritual and social reawakening, we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our own instruments.” And then he adds, “Among the moral imperatives of our time, we are challenged to work all over the world with unshakable determination to wipe out the last vestiges of racism.”[1]

Many congregations and individuals in this synod have opened their minds and hearts to confront the realities of racism and economic disparities, as well as the cultural attitudes that perpetuate both of those. Alongside that, we are rethinking the role that technology plays in unsettling our interactions with one another.I know I still have a long way to go, but on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2024 I am grateful for every teacher, preacher, author, colleague, or community leader, who has pressed me to see where my own perspective and assumptions are narrow or biased; where my viewpoint has been manipulated by half-truths and superficial understanding. How about you?

May this be a season in which we recommit ourselves to the values at the foundation of Rev. King’s ministry and life work.

Bishop Patricia Lull


[1] Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1967, page 173.