MISHAWAKA -- On Jan. 20, Bethel University celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day through worship, dance and by inviting a panel for questions at its weekly Monday chapel.
The Council of Diversity and Inclusion at Bethel took charge of the delegated planning of this year’s MLK chapel.
Stephanie Ferrell, Billy Kirk Scholar Coordinator and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion panel, wanted the chapel to be as intentional as possible so it was not an isolated event.
“I wanted the chapel to impact students, to show that MLK can be a part of anyone’s life,” Ferrell said.
She felt the chapel service went according to plan, even if it surpassed the 50-minute mark.
Ferrell said she thinks too many people focus on one of MLK’s most famous speeches, I Have a Dream, instead on his life’s work towards a better America.
“We are not there anymore. We have not been there… We should not focus on one moment of his career.”
Because of this viewpoint the council decided to focus on MLK’s last speech, I’ve Been to the Mountain Top.
Associate Professor of Philosophy Cristian Mihut, Ph.D., and chair of the council, was responsible for recruiting the panelists and creating the questions they would answer. He also led the discussion in chapel.
Mihut said, “I wanted the panelists to give us a sense of how they themselves are faithful to the legacy of MLK, and how they carry that out.”
Mihut explained that he thought the questions were effective and carried out the message he intended to express. He said he wanted to reflect on the empathy that MLK had for his oppressors, and yet was still grounded in the gospel.
There is a great desire to bring people together and the decision to do what God tells MLK to do, regardless of the situation, through this speech, Ferrell explained.
Mihut thinks it is very important to celebrate social and religious leaders, not just on one day a year, but every day.
“I think it’s important to stay faithful to the legacies and in detail. Just knowing quotes is not enough. We should actively look for models of people who act justly, love mercy and are humble in their endeavors,” he said.
Ferrell said she is cautiously optimistic about how the chapel will affect the lives of students in the near future and is excited for next year’s MLK chapel and the change it will continue to bring.