King’s dream celebrated on Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day by speakers and musicians

King’s dream celebrated on Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day by speakers and musicians

GOSHEN, Ind. — The singing and swaying of Goshen College’s multi-racial, multi-generational Voices ‘n Harmony Gospel Choir opened the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day on Jan. 20 with “King’s dream,” according to choir director Patrice Penny-Henderson.

The day began with a Community Prayer Breakfast which brought together nearly 280 church workers and pastors, business persons, city government workers, health workers and Goshen College students and faculty to hear Rev. Gilbert C. Washington speak on sharing and caring the way Martin Luther King Jr. did. Washington is pastor of St. Paul Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in South Bend, Ind.

“Martin Luther King shared his vision. He sought to give expression to his religious thoughts. The more he read the Scriptures, the more he shared. The more he studied the Scriptures, the more he shared. And the more he believed the Scriptures, the more he shared,” said Washington, “We may not be Martin Luther King Jr., but we can share.”


Noting the high unemployment rate and the increase in segregated education, specifically among minorities, Washington expressed his discouragement over what he perceives as a “step backward” by President Bush’s administration regarding affirmative action. “This is unacceptable. America has a cold, and when America has a cold, people on the peripheries and minorities get pneumonia,” he said.

Washington challenged the audience to reach out to people “on the edges” and “become instruments of God’s grace” as we care for others. &#8220Caring is part of our religious makeup and heritage. It is part of what it means to be human,” he said.

During the morning convocation at Goshen College, keynote speaker Deborah Wilds, a program officer for scholarships and higher education access with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reaffirmed Washington’s message by focusing her talk, “Our Call to Wholeness and Diversity,” specifically on President Bush’s stance against the University of Michigan’s race-based admission policies.

Wilds questioned the audience’s concern about this issue because “there has been virtually no outcry or protest from most white college campuses,” she said, “This should not be!”

Wilds reminded the audience of the “biblical call for affirmative action and diversity to achieve the bonds of unity and wholeness with the body of Christ.”

“You can and you must do better in terms of enrolling and graduating a more racially and ethnically diverse student body and employing faculty and staff of color,” Wilds said.

Performing during the convocation was the Lee Heights Church Choir of Cleveland, Ohio, where Goshen College Associate Campus Minister Regina Shands Stoltzfus pastored before leaving in 2002. For the Martin Luther King Jr. Study Day she reunited with the choir, which she was part of from the time she was in sixth grade; Shands Stoltzfus’ own sixth grade daughter currently sings with her in the Voices ‘n Harmony choir.

Other events during the study day included afternoon workshops addressing topics ranging from the role of jazz in the Civil Rights movement to affirmative action to jive talkin’ poetry. To end the day of reflection and remembrance, a “Celebration Concert” featuring the Goshen College Chamber Choir, Chorale, Jazz Ensemble and Voices ‘n Harmony Gospel Choir was held in the college’s new Music Center.

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a 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