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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Faith in Action Assembly

Reflections on Participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Faith in Action Assembly by Betsy Bowen

I’ll start this reflection by admitting that it had been a couple of years since I had really celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I had come to look forward to the third Monday in January as a day of rest and remembrance, one on which I would quietly remember the legacy of Dr. King, but would otherwise go about my business as usual, grateful for the extra day off from work and school.

That changed this year, when I met Libby A’Hearn Gilmore and Joe Scarry early that morning to carpool to Kingdom Baptist Church on Chicago’s West Side. At Kingdom Baptist, we joined fellow St. Luke’s members Lora Salley and Kerry Jenkins, as well as hundreds of other people of faith gathered to celebrate Dr. King and continue his work at the Faith in Action Assembly, organized by the Community Renewal Society (CRS).

The large sanctuary of Kingdom Baptist was filled with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds, who had come in from places throughout the city and suburbs, from Waukegan to the far South Side. We gathered to sing, pray, and uphold CRS’s action platform for the year, which focuses on education reform, creating and preserving affordable housing, and advocating for job opportunities for ex-offenders. Last summer, St. Luke’s participated in CRS’s listening campaign, and the issues and concerns included on the current platform were voiced by many of our members during that process. They are also issues that are personally important to me as a Christian, a Chicagoan, a Logan Square resident, and a social worker.

Earlier we had heard that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had responded to the thousands of postcards and hundreds of phone calls made by CRS’s network inviting him to the assembly, and would be joining us there. Unfortunately, CRS informed us that morning that the Governor had a scheduling conflict and would not be attending. Even so, several state senators and representatives attended and personally endorsed CRS’s platform. It is up to us to hold them to this commitment. There will be many opportunities to do so, including at CRS’s annual lobbying trip to Springfield, which will be held April 24.

I left the event feeling connected to a cause and a community and inspired to continue to work for social justice, in whatever ways I can, large or small. As Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

To view photos from this event, please visit the Community Renewal Society’s Flickr page.

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