Youth Honor Dr. King's Legacy Through Service


IMG 1179.2January 31, 2013


On January 21st, approximately 75 youth and youth leaders celebrated the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by spending the day in community service at social service agencies in Omaha.

Teams gathered in the morning at TRI-Community United Methodist Church for welcome events where they were encouraged to think of it as a day 'on', not 'off.' Participants were greeted by Pastor Chuck Nelson of TRI-Community UMC and the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, Executive Director of United Methodist Ministries.

Following welcoming remarks, participants were treated to a special performance by Spoken-Word artists 'The Wordsmiths.' Using original poetic works, the Wordsmiths shared the profound effect of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's sacrifice, contributions, and legacy today, through the time honored artistic medium of Spoken Word. Spoken Word is part of the Great African Oral Tradition by which familial stories, history, traditions, morals and values, hopes and dreams, pain and tragedy are all relayed through cleverly woven poems and stories. This portion of the program was made available through the Nebraska Humanities Council.

Ahlschwede said, "We especially appreciated the addition this year of the Wordsmiths. The room fell silent during their performance, and it was clear that both the youth and adults present were moved by their presentation and still thinking about it six hours later as they were leaving for home."

Teams departed for volunteer sites that included a Youth Emergency Services homeless shelter, the Open Door Mission, Blue Flamingo thrift store, and the Stephen Center shelter. Teams organized donations, cleaned, stuffed envelopes, sorted clothing, and performed other miscellaneous tasks.

When participants were asked to name one thing that they learned at the event, a youth from the First UMC in Springfield said, "That helping others is a good thing." Another reported learning "a lot about Fair Trade."

Teams represented several local United Methodist church groups including Hanscom Park UMC, TRI-Community UMC, St. Paul UMC in Benson, St. Paul UMC in Papillion, Aldersgate UMC in Bellevue, First UMC in Springfield, and the United Methodist Church in Gretna. At the end of the day, teams returned to TRI-Community UMC for closing remarks and a period of group reflection.

United Methodist Ministries holds the day of service in conjunction with nationwide events honoring Dr. King. Ahlschwede said, "We began the MLK Day of Service several years ago when both parents and pastors asked us if we could coordinate an event that would include both service and a time to learn more about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It has remained an important program for us. I find that I know the year has really started once we come together for the MLK Day of Service."

"The theme of 'make it a day on, not a day off' speaks to the importance of remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." said Rev. Ahlschwede. "While not all students have the day off, we feel it is important to offer those who are out of school an opportunity to learn more about his legacy and practice putting their faith into action."

The MLK Day of Service is part of United Methodist Ministries' line-up of annual days of service that also includes Global Youth Service Day and Stand Up Against Poverty Day of Service. United Methodist Ministries' next day of service is Global Youth Service Day on April 27th. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.