Churches across New York and New Jersey are heading into their communities on Monday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to service.
According to the Christian Post, three churches, one in New York and two in New Jersey, are spending their Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday by participating in service projects in their communities.
St. Matthias Catholic church community in Somerset, New Jersey will be volunteering their time on MLK Day, but according to a spokeswoman for the church, Ana Kelly, this is only one of six service days that the church participates in annually.
The church members volunteer at organizations across several New Jersey counties including a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a Ronald McDonald House, a food bank and the Pregnancy Aid Center. St. Matthias even includes their young members in the volunteer activities. Kelly told the Christian Post that this year the middle school students at the church’s sister-school will have the chance to work with the St. Matthias Faith Formation program and the Center for FaithJustice to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and volunteer in small groups at various locations.
New York City-based church, Trinity Church Wall Street, has a tradition of service on MLK Day, the Christian Post reports. Over the past several years the church family has come together to combat poverty in their community. Ruth Frey the director of Justice and Reconciliation at the church said this year, Trinity Church would be hosting a program called “This is America,” which is working to inform people about “the systemic nature of poverty.”
According to the Episcopal church’s website, the church has volunteer events planned out for the entire weekend. On Friday, parishioners met to pack brown bag lunches for those in need, on Saturday, parish members took to the streets to participate in the NYC Women’s March and on Sunday, the church hosted a special service which was followed by more bagged lunch packing. On Monday, the church will be hosting their “This is America program,” which the website says “offers an opportunity to better understand and reconsider poverty” through exercises and simulations.
Frey told the Christian Post, “King is best known for his work on racial justice. But shortly before he was assassinated, King focused the nation’s attention on economic inequality and poverty.”
“For King, faith and politics were integrated. And he called for changing systems that are set up to oppress the poor and people of color. His faith and his politics focused on human flourishing, rather than oppression. The American church is called to do the same,” she continued.
While Trinity Church is working to encourage people to fight poverty, in Cranford, New Jersey, St. Michael Church is working to create care packages for active-duty military and local shelters including one for pregnant women.
According to the church’s website, volunteers will be working to collect non-perishable foods and necessities including items like toothpaste, diapers, deodorant and multi-purpose cleaners. The packages will be given to active duty military members, the YWCA Women’s Shelter, the Community Access Unlimited, Raphael’s Life House, Homefirst in Plainfield, FISH Hospitality, St. Joseph’s Mission and Food for Friends.
Msgr. Timothy J. Shugrue told the Christian Post that their church body will also be participating in a project fair that was put together by the Cranford Clergy Council and the Cranford Interfaith Human Relations Committee. As a part of the project fair, parishioners will have the opportunity to volunteer in various service projects around their communities for the Catholic church’s 7thAnnual Cranford Day of Service in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.
MLK Day was deemed a national day of service by Congress in 1994 and these three churches are only a few examples of people coming together to honor the late minister’s memory and to show the love of Christ through service.
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