A Day to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King's Work

The time is always right to do what is right. ~ MLK
            For three years, students led by educators from the Madison Christian Community, First Congregational UCC and Beth Israel Center have joined together as faith communities in a youth service day to honor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.
            Following Dr. King's adage, this youth program centers on a timely theme that has meaning and possibility to our students. In 2016, an election year, we focused on voting rights and "Get Out the Vote" actions, complete with a visit from Madison's City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behr. In 2017 we learned how to "Take a Stand." This year our centering phrase was "We Shall Not Be Moved." The story and resolve of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a nine-year-old civil-rights activist who was jailed for her participation in the 1963 Birmingham Children's March, taught our youth how to identify an important cause, how far they are willing to go in support of that cause, and productive ways to protest for their cause. Hendricks's story, and our program, highlighted the advantages of having a community to support you in your efforts.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' ~MLK
Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~MLK
            In addition to expert-led workshops using art, music and drama, our oldest students enacted the Reverend King's thoughts about 'doing right' by learning about the homeless crisis in Madison and working together to create skeins of plarn; plastic yarn made from recycled plastic bags, to crochet easy-to-clean, portable, waterproof sleeping mats for the less fortunate in our community. This task was accomplished in the Healing House, a fledgling project which will provide medical respite for homeless families. Ezra Matthews-Needelman, a sixth-grade participant from Beth Israel Center said "...this was a really fun activity that people should like and do. It's an easy way to learn to help people, and fun too." "It's an easy way to help people who are in need. It was my favorite part of the day! It saved the environment and helped people," said fourth grader Dafna Copelovitch. Each mat made will not only keep a person sleeping outside warmer and drier, but will also save at least 500 plastic bags from a landfill.
People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other. ~MLK
            The day began with a short interfaith worship service led by the planning communities' clergy and professional leaders, followed by icebreakers and cooperative games for each group. We ended with a dramatic presentation written by Jeff Rabe of First Congregational UCC and performed by all of the students who participated in the day. The presentation brought to life the Birmingham Children's March through rhyming, singing and acting, complete with protest signs and an expressive repetition of the famous protest song "We Shall Not Be Moved." Lily Matthews-Needelman, an eighth grader, summarized her experience exactly as the planners hoped: "It's a good way to educate us about why this day is meaningful. It helps us understand about events in history and how they've affected our life today for better or for worse."
~ Beth Copelovitch, E ducation Director, Beth Israel Center
Thanks go out to the following First Cong Members who graciously volunteered their time to make this event happen:  Maureen McCoy, Cathy Noth, Jeanne Marshall, Emily Cochran, Gloria Green, Liz Michaels, Rob Hetzel, Anne & Paul Karch, Paul Lorentz, Margaret Strass, Dorothy Brown, Cass Kight, Judy & Hank Whipple, Don DeBruin, Janet Pugh, Ann Beaty, Spencer Noth-Hazen and Laura Pine.

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 12:23 pm in Featured Content.

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