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Taylor to hold 25th MLK celebration

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

Taylor University will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday, on the holiday set aside to remeber the civil rights leader.

Taylor plans to “keep moving forward,” for the theme of their 25th celebration of Dr. King’s life, drawing inspiration from one of his famous speeches.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward,” Dr. King said on a television broadcast in the late 1960s.

Starting at 10 a.m., Taylor will host a chapel service led by Tali Hairston, director of the John Perkins Center for reconciliation, leadership training, and community development at Seattle Pacific University, inside the Rediger Chapel Auditorium

During the service, Rev. Shonda Gladden, formerly of the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Marion and now serving at the St. Paul AME Church in Indianapolis, will be leading music to celebrate the message of peace that Dr. King promoted in his life.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Grant County,” Rev. Gladden said. “I’ve only been gone for eight weeks but I already miss it, and the Taylor community is always very warm and welcoming.”

Rev. Gladden said she hopes participating students and community members are touched by Dr. King’s message to “Live a life for all people.”

In the afternoon, Taylor students will volunteer within the community starting at 2 p.m., according to Taylor University Director of Media Relations Jim Garringer. Taylor students will be present in Marion at the Homeland Mission and Real Community Church in Marion. Garringer said other students plan to go out into the Upland area to offer their service at local nursing homes and other areas in need.

Rev. Gladden said while students are contributing their community service, they are also aware of the reality of the current political climate and don’t turn away from difficult conversations.

“My hope is that students are engaged and work together to promote Dr. King’s message, which is creating a community that is beloved,” Gladden said. “A vision of progress today would be being honest about the current situation.”

She said the “racialized rhetoric” promoted by President Donald Trump is “not welcoming” to people from other countries. Rev. Gladden said she wants the celebration of Dr. King’s legacy to generate a conversation in the community “that is life-giving.”

Following the community service, a free performance from the Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra will take place inside the chapel auditorium at 7:30 p.m., bringing the day’s events to a close.

“This day is a celebration of Dr. King’s life and the influence he had on people during the Civil Rights Movement,” Garringer said. “He was a man with insight who encouraged people to adhere to the values of our founding fathers, that all men and women were created equal.”