Brenneman honors legacy, values of Martin Luther King Jr.

GOSHEN, Ind.  — Goshen College President James Brenneman celebrated the leadership, vision and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. in three commentary columns published over the weekend in local newspapers.

Brenneman’s commentaries, or guest opinion articles, were published Sunday in The (Elkhart) Truth and The Goshen Newsand Monday in the South Bend Tribune.

In his “Point of View” column for The Truth, Brenneman recalled King’s historic visit to Goshen College on March 10, 1960. King took a break from his busy schedule of striving for equality and justice in Alabama to present a lecture on “The Future of Integration.”

Brenneman wrote that King’s lecture, which was well attended by members of the campus and Goshen communities “remains a high point in the history of Goshen College. It inspired those who attended the lecture — and it remains an inspiration on campus and in Elkhart County for those who still embrace King’s vision and values.”

Brenneman praised King’s commitment to non-violence social change. He also wrote that the nation has yet to realize King’s dream of racial equality.

“We have a long way to go to overcome our prejudices and to overcome our belief that a just-verdict can come only through violence and warfare,” Brenneman wrote.

“The world still needs to hear the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. just as it still needs to hear the teachings of Jesus Christ. The world still waits for the upside-down justice of God to be revealed.”

In his Goshen News commentary, Brenneman invited the community to visit Goshen College for the 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day — a day of prayer, reflection, instruction and celebration (held Jan. 15). He also wrote that it is “right and good” for the nation to honor the slain civil rights leader.

“Although he was a flawed prophet, King still revealed to us the power of God’s upside-down approach to establishing justice on earth. He also taught us that all have value as individuals, regardless of our race or ethnicity or circumstances,” Brenneman wrote.

President Brenneman believes King’s commitment to non-violence social change — and his love for even those who hated him — remains an inspiration today.

“King discovered that the love he knew personally and intimately was also a fierce love — a love known by Jesus that was more than a mere interaction between individuals. Rather, it was a powerful restraining love, a potent instrument for social and collective transformation,” Brenneman wrote.

“Such love, King wrote, was “ ‘the only morally and practically sound weapon open to oppressed people.’”

In his opinion article for the South Bend Tribune, Brenneman recounted his experiences growing up in a segregated South of  “separate but equal” public accommodations.

“Of course, there were separate schools, even separate textbooks,” he wrote. “There were separate beaches, separate hospitals and separate ticket booths. Blacks had to sit upstairs in theaters, even if the whole downstairs was empty. And if you died and you were black, you had to be buried in a segregated cemetery.”

Brenneman wrote that King “imagined a different reality, a more hopeful future, described in the teachings of the prophets, in the life of Jesus Christ and in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He imagined a world in which the circle of God’s love was drawn ever wider, extending east, west, north, south to the “highest heavens” across ethnic and racial lines, across apartheid barriers and around checkpoints of fear and hostility.”

President Brenneman also wrote that he believes Goshen College is striving for the loving, diverse and welcoming society imagined by King.

“A glimpse at the world from space underscores the relative intimacy of our home planet. Rev. King imagined the world as a widely separated family — one that inherits a house in which all live together in what King called “a World House.” It’s my hope that Goshen College will realize that dream and become a truly Christ-centered liberal arts “World House of Learning” for the 21st century and beyond,” Brenneman wrote.

Links to commentaries by Dr. Brenneman:

  • Community should honor the vision and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.
    Published: in The Goshen News, page C-4, Jan. 14, 2007
  • King visit historic moment for Goshen College
    Published: In The (Elkhart) Truth, page A5, Jan. 14, 2007
  • King’s dream remains alive for this son of the South
    Published: in The South Bend Tribune, page B5, Jan. 15, 2007

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview with President Brenneman or request a photo, contact Richard R. Aguirre, Goshen College director of public relations at (574) 535-7571 or rraguirre@goshen.edu.

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Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu.

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