January 24, 2020
The Body of Christ is not one culture; it is not one race or gender or nation. The Church is meant to be diverse, to have unity and distinctions within the congregation. This is what makes the Church beautiful, and what makes it strong.
Asbury University strives to promote conversation and interaction across ethno-cultural backgrounds, and this focus is especially prevalent around the holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On MLK day this year, nineteen students, faculty, and administrators joined the nearly 1,000 attendees of the Unity Breakfast in Lexington, and more participated later in the MLK Day Unity March.
“Asbury has been participating in the MLK Unity Breakfast for over fifteen years,” said Rev. Esther Jadhav, the Assistant Vice President of Intercultural Affairs, “The goal is to give members of our community, faculty, students and staff an opportunity to participate in this communal celebration and be a part of learning about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the future opportunities in the work of racial reconciliation.”
Many Asbury University students come from backgrounds where contact with cultures other than their own is limited. The University intentionally promotes student engagement with crucial issues such as discrimination and racial reconciliation.
“This trip is always challenging,” said Maria Brown, Asbury’s Intercultural Affairs Coordinator, “but it is also inspiring. Yes, there is still much work to be done, but there are people who are faithfully working in very inspiring ways. It’s a good reminder that God is always at work – whether it is explicitly done in His name or not.”
Asbury University students played a major role in the Unity Breakfast, and undergraduate Caleb Norris ’20 was one of four featured speakers at the event.
“It felt like a refresher and reminder to continue to have conversations and live lives that move us towards being more Christlike,” said Ben Okenge ’21.
“I am always looking for ways to enrich my understanding of culture as well as learning about great people from history that helped shape and change culture for the better. It served as a challenge to think about all the different ways in which we can play a part in impacting the world around us for the better.”
For Ben and his peers, remembering the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and all that he stood for serves as inspiration and encouragement to continue sharing their culture with those around them. “As an institution, Asbury does an excellent job of giving us opportunities and platforms to think about important cultural topics,” Ben said. “It is up to us as students to take advantage of these opportunities.”
by Cooper Boss ’22