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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

GH church to 'Let Freedom Ring'

Below is an article from the January 20, 2019, edition of the Grand Haven Tribune that mentions the ministry of our church.

With the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaching on Monday, Jan. 21, there are a variety of ways to commemorate the civil rights leader and icon. One local church is organizing a day-long event for the community to hear and reflect upon his message.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 524 Washington Ave. in Grand Haven, welcomes anyone in the community to come Monday and hear Dr. King’s writings, which will be read from the pulpit by a team of volunteers throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I remember first reading King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ when I was a young evangelical Bible major at a private Christian college,” said the Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church. “I sat in my car and wept, convicted by Dr. King’s words, suddenly realizing how my own perspective as a white moderate was failing to be faithful to the teachings of Christ.

“My hope is that by inviting anyone in the community to come at anytime throughout the day and listen to Dr. King’s words, we will all find ourselves convicted and called to work for greater justice and equity in our society,” Cramer added.

The event is inspired by a similar event that began at the Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where King had once preached. They organized the first “Let Freedom Ring” day-long reading of King’s works. The cathedral dean at the time, the Rev. Mike Kinman, said, “People would sign up for half-hour shifts to read — but at any time, someone could walk up (and) indicate they want to take over reading, and just take over. We’d ask people to read for no more than five minutes if someone was waiting, and if there was a gap, the shift leader would be there to make sure the reading continued.”

Since then, many other Episcopal churches have taken up the idea and offered a day of readings in their own community.

The Grand Haven parish is hoping the event will complement the National Day of Service activities that many take part in to commemorate the holiday, Cramer said. People are invited to come for a few minutes or for several hours, at any point they wish to during the day. The parish has organized reading leaders who will serve in half-hour shifts, but anyone who comes and would like to read will be invited to come to the pulpit and read for a time.

“King’s words have always cut across time and generation, but I feel that at this moment in the life of our country, with an increase in white nationalism and other forms or racial and ethnic discrimination, a day listening to Dr. King’s words is particularly important,” Cramer said. “I truly hope people will come and find themselves inspired anew to work for real change in our society.”

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