“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS,” a Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Event
On January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, defying threats and rumors of snow, an estimated 170
people filled the St. Augustine nave for the 7th annual “Blessed
Are the Peace Makers” Martin Luther King, Jr. event. This event
was initiated by and is sponsored yearly by the St. Augustine’s
Episcopal Peace Fellowship as a gift to the Whidbey community.
Prior to the service an estimated 115 individuals ate and enjoyed
fellowship in the parish hall. (EPF is trying to follow Bishop
Rickel’s admonition to wear out the building) Those attending
were encouraged to make a free will offering for Helping Hand of
South Whidbey. The free will offering raised $432.00 to assist,
through Helping Hand, those who find themselves in Dr. King’s
words to be “an island of poverty surrounded by a sea of
The service began with a message to youth read by Katie Reid. After singing “This Little Light of
Mine,” hearing a reading from Amos and praying a collect for Martin Luther King’s feast day, the
service began the interactive readings.
The interactive readings that focused on the Freedom Rides of 1961. The Freedom Rider youth were true
nonviolent heroes whose sacrifices caused an indifferent nation to take notice of the human costs of
racism. Through their courage nonviolence overcame violence and love overcame hate.
As Melisa Doss read the narrative or story line from the lectern, individuals, speaking either from the
pews or altar area, interjected with accounts of the Freedom Riders and their experiences or with
responses from those in authority. Nineteen individuals, including four teenagers, had speaking parts.
The Freedom Rider speakers spoke from the pews while authority figures, including John and Robert
Kennedy, spoke from in front of the congregation.
Following intercessory prayers, led by Tom Johnson, and more Movement songs the gathering listened
to an inspirational and challenging witness.
Ora Houston’s witness called for the community to respect the
dignity of all persons, to honor diversity, to speak with civility
to others, to listen to differing viewpoints respecting where
their truth comes from and to speak out and stand up on peace
and justice issues. She also, in her words, came to upset the
comfortable. Ora called on the predominately white gathering
to think about and consider the impact of white privilege or
culture on people of color. Dr. King’s dream has not yet been
fulfilled. Ora’s homily in its entirety can be heard on YouTube
by clicking on or pasting the following link to your browser.
Speech by Ora Houston – “Blessed be the Peacmakers” event at St. Augustine’s -
1/16/2012 (MLK day)
Music was a key element in enhancing the messages and
creating a beloved community. Karl Olsen led the singing.
Danny Ward with his saxophone and Kaj Lund Olsen on
bass accompanied Karl’s guitar and keyboard. ICTHUS, the
Trinity Lutheran youth singers also sang and received an
ovation from the gathered community.
The event closed on an emotional high with a
reading of “I Have a Dream” and the gathering
holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome.”