Martin Luther King Interfaith Day of Service celebrates 10 years

January 16, 2020

As most Americans use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day without work and a chance to sleep in, members of the Brandeis community will gather on campus to honor Dr. King’s legacy through meal packaging and an educational fair at the 10th annual Martin Luther King Interfaith Day of Service

This year’s theme, “Building Beloved Community,” is a phrase that was utilized by Dr. King, Rev. Matt Carriker, the Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis, told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. 

The meal packaging is done based on donations that the event receives from outside donors. Carriker explained that they receive $2500 from Outreach, Inc. each year for meal packing. With each meal costing $0.25, members of the Brandeis community are able to pack at least 10,000 meals. Any additional donations increase the number of meals that they are able to pack. Carriker added that they currently have enough funds to pack 14,000 meals. 

All individuals who attend the day of service will meet in the beginning and the end of the event. The guest speaker for the opening gathering is Dr. George Walters-Sleyon from Bunker Hill Community College, according to Carriker. The speaker at the end of the day, and also the keynote speaker, is Regina Robinson, the Dean of Student Affairs at Cambridge College. Carriker explained that there would also be “conversation about what the day meant and how we can move forward with this,” he told The Hoot in an interview. “The hope is that you can take it and continue with service work at Brandeis or wherever in the community you’re from. We hope people leaving feel inspired to go and do the work of service and social justice.” 

Carriker has been involved with the Martin Luther King Interfaith Day of Service since its inception in 2010 with the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), the oldest interfaith social action network, according to Carriker. He explained that “all religious and spiritual traditions say ‘be of service,’ especially of those in need. For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we wanted to honor his legacy. Not just the service, but the social justice. And demonstrating how faith inform[s] the social justice that we do and the service and charity work that we do.” 

The Day of Service arrived at Brandeis eight years ago, when Alex Kern, the then-Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis and CMM received a grant to move the program to Brandeis. 

Carriker explained that it was much easier to do the event on a college campus rather than in Boston to avoid the cost of transporting individuals into the city and renting a space for the event to occur. 

The event is co-sponsored by CMM, the Center for Spiritual Life, the Department of Community Service, Intercultural Center, Waltham Group, the Library, the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program and the MLK Fellows in Academic Services. 

All the workshop sessions listed below will take place in the Usdan Student Center:

“Youth MLK Workshop” (International Lounge)

Esther Brandon, lecturer and Digital Literacy Specialist, will be leading a 30-minute-long session that gives elementary school through middle school students the opportunity to explore Dr. King’s views on Building Beloved Community, the theme of this year’s event. This event will also give participants the opportunity to make Valentine’s Day cards that will be distributed to children in hospitals through the non-profit organization, Cards for Hospitalized Kids. 

“Preparing for Climate Change in Massachusetts” (Hillel Lounge)

Craig S. Alternose, the founding Executive Director of the Better Future Project, will be leading a session on how to prepare for climate change in Massachusetts. The Better Future Project is a  local climate organizing non-profit home to organizations 350 Massachusetts, Divest Ed and CREW. 

“Faith Communities help trauma victims!” (Wyner Lobby)

Rev. Isaac Selaam, the Congregational Coordinator for the Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM,) will be leading a session on how faith communities help trauma victims. 

“Engaging Diversity and Privilege” (Multifaith Lounge)

Rev. Matt Carriker, the Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis University and Pastor at Agape Spiritual Community Waltham, will be leading a session on engaging diversity and privilege. 

“MLK’s Six Principles of Nonviolence” (Alumni Lounge)

Come learn about Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence with Shelton Oakley Hersey, the direction of the Interfaith Youth Initiative program at the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. This event is being held in the Alumni Lounge in the Usdan Student Center.

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