JACKSON, Tenn. – Jan. 20, 2009 – With hands clasped, representatives from Union University’s Stephen Olford Center and Germantown campus joined with members of True Light Baptist Church in Memphis Jan. 19 to honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
“I need you, you need me,” they sang to conclude a special joint worship service at the church. “We’re all a part of God’s body. Stand with me, agree with me. We’re all a part of God’s body.”
The worship service kicked off a day of partnership and service between the Union campuses and the church. It’s the first time for Union’s campuses in Memphis to celebrate the birthday of King in such a way.
Following the service, Union nursing students provided health screenings at Parkview Apartments near the church, while education professors and Union staff members read to children.
“These students are new,” said nursing professor Donna Sachse. “They started Jan. 5. But we have taught them already how to do blood pressures, so that they could participate.”
Students, faculty and staff at Union’s main campus in Jackson also participated in service projects designed to honor King’s legacy.
“We should be daily involved in stuff like this,” said Timothy Cogbill, a student in the Associate of Divinity program at the Olford Center. “This is a good way for some people to start. I know I haven’t done all that I could, so this is a way for me to be more active in endeavors like this. I thank God for the opportunity.”
Landon Preston, director of operations at the Olford Center, said the holiday carries added meaning in Memphis, where King was killed.
“We wanted to do something in service, but we also wanted to partner with a local African American church to do that,” Preston said. “We wanted to do things that will help and benefit the community here.”
All classes at the Germantown campus were canceled for the day, said Jimmy Davis, Union’s vice president for the Germantown campus. He expects for the day of service on the King holiday to become an annual event.
The worship service consisted of Scripture reading, congregational singing, testimonies, a drama tribute and the Lord’s Supper, in addition to comments by Frank Anderson Jr., pastor of True Light Baptist Church.
“We really want our church community to be careful about who we exalt and how we go about recognizing great men and great women,” Anderson said. “We always want to recognize them in the context of what God is doing through them. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man, but he was used of God. While we need to demonstrate some appreciation for what he’s done, we need to give glory to God for what happened.”
At the apartment complex, Union nursing faculty and students in the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program conducted a health fair. They provided free blood pressure checks and distributed information about mental health issues, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and other health-related matters.