Office of Government Relations

Resources for MLK Day and Inauguration

January 15, 2021
Office of Government Relations

In this message, we want to share a quick guide to the coming days and offer a brief reflection on our incredible tradition of the transfer of power, the turbulent times we are living in, and the nonviolent legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Check out our Inauguration Resources including prayer resources for yourself and your congregation, information on vigils taking place in the coming days, information on upcoming legislative and policy advocacy, and resources for civic-mindedness.

The last few days have been a shock to us all, and a trauma for many. A mob of violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, the temple of American democracy, with the mission of at a minimum disrupting our duly elected lawmakers from counting the electoral votes, thus certifying the will of the American people expressed in the 2020 presidential election. Others had more violent intentions, aiming to harm our lawmakers and the Vice-President, and in so doing threaten our nation. Five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, died in the riot. The violence, but also the baseless challenges to the electoral count, strike a blow to the very heart of our civic identity, and the processes we have in place that ensured our election was safe and secure. Yet we must remember, the legal challenges, a legitimate means of seeking to address irregularities, failed. The 2020 election was one of the most secure elections in U.S. history, even with the ongoing pandemic. 

Those who engaged in the Epiphany Insurrection must be held to account for their crimes. The current president will leave office at noon on January 20th, and the president-elect will take up the presidential mantle at that time. Yet, one cannot help but fear that in the wake of last week our country lost something deep and dear: the sense that our system of constitutional and democratic norms is built on a solid foundation, never to be moved. Our certainty that we would always have a peaceful transfer of power, from one president to the next and one party to the next which we have taken pride in for more than 200 years, is gone.  

The United States has never been a perfect country. The man whose life and legacy we honor this weekend, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., attests to that. Unlike the insurrectionists on January 6, again and again King chose nonviolence as the path to change a system he abhorred. He gave his life to overturn this republic’s foundational injustice: racism, which during his time manifested in the Jim Crow segregation system. Like Americans throughout the generations, Dr. King saw an evil being committed by the state and chose to do something about it. His radical witness of the power of nonviolent protest broke the back of America’s original sin. He has forever proven that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (Loving Your Enemies, Martin Luther King, Jr.). 

In that spirit, we call upon all Americans to mark Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and all the festivities surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with a spirit of peace and hope and with a commitment to prayer. We urge everyone to mark the celebration of Dr. King, and Inauguration Day, safely, with those in your immediate circle and with the knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our country. In the spirit of Dr. King, we must also re-commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is he, our creator and redeemer, who gave us minds and intelligence to reason and explore and seek truth. We must fight the urge to allow motivated reasoning, our tendency to embrace only evidence that fits our previously held views, to prejudice our minds against facts, science, and reality. “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).  

Above all, we must rediscover our common allegiance, recognizing that we are all Americans, regardless of which party we support or who we vote for.  The fate of a farmer in rural Nebraska is just as much your concern as the prospects of a first-grade child growing up in the Bronx. We rise or fall together as one nation. 

Join us as we pray for all in civil authority: 

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

The Office of Government Relations