Call to prayer as MLK Jr. Day and Inauguration approach

This message was issued to the diocesan community on Jan. 15, 2021.

We approach this year’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday in the wake of the unprecedented national events of the week just past, and looking toward Inauguration Day in the week just ahead amidst circumstances like none we’ve seen before.

These times that try our souls recall us to our Gospel values of peace and justice, to principles of nonviolence, to prayer, witness and action. Listed below are several ways, among the many that will be offered in congregations and communities, to gather with others for prayer, connection and conversation. You are invited to participate as fully as you are able.

Following are the words of benediction that Bishop Alan M. Gates will pray at the annual Boston Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Monday (reimagined as an online event this year), shared here so that they might be a blessing, inspiration and call to action for us all. Let us pray:  

O God of all the ages: We have oft sung those words which the psalmist declared: “A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past.” [Psalm 90:4]

The year of our Lord 2020 is yesterday. Yet we know that yesterday is not past, and will not be past, until by your grace we have the strength and courage to proclaim alongside our Savior Jesus Christ that year which is acceptable to you.

We mark this day Dr. King’s exhortation for us to be about the serious business of bringing God’s reign to fruition. Of that acceptable year, Dr. King told us [i]:

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we decide to do right.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we stop throwing away the precious lives that God has given us.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we keep our technology abreast with our theology.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we keep our mentality abreast with our morality.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we keep the ends for which we live abreast with the means by which we live.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when all the leaders of the world realize that unless humankind puts an end to war, war will put an end to humankind.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we send to Congress and to the state houses of our nation those who will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when all people will love our enemies, bless those that curse us, and pray for those that despitefully use us.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we discover that out of one blood God made all people who dwell upon the face of the earth.

The acceptable year of the Lord is God’s year.

May God grant every one of us the wisdom and courage to stand, speak, pray, and act in pursuit of God’s acceptable year. This is our prayer: Amen.

[i] Excerpted and paraphrased from Dr. King’s sermon, “Guidelines for a Constructive Church,” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, on June 5, 1966.

Spanish-language Martin Luther King Jr. Service: The diocesan Hispanic Ministries Committee will host a Spanish-language service honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 17 at noon.  All are invited to join the livestream at , where the service will remain posted there for later viewing. Read more here.

Annual Boston Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Breakfast: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, founded 51 years ago by St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church and Union United Methodist Church, is the nation’s longest-running celebration of its kind. This year's gathering on Monday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., in partnership with Northeastern University, will be a virtual event to include both a multifaceted celebration and interactive teach-ins. Find details and register at

Inauguration Eve Prayer Service: The Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston will host a time of prayer for our nation on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome. Register before the service here to receive the Zoom link. If able, bring a candle to the Zoom screen to light during the service.

MLK Day and Inauguration resources from the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations: The Office of Government Relations has compiled prayers, information on vigils taking place in the coming days, upcoming legislative and policy advocacy and resources for civic mindedness. Find them here.

“From Many, One: Conversations Across Difference”: This Episcopal Church campaign launches on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18, inviting Episcopalians and their families, friends and neighbors to engage in the spiritual practice of listening and honest conversation across the many differences that may be a cause for division, starting with four simple questions: What do you love? What have you lost? Where does it hurt? What do you dream? Find resources to start your own conversation across difference at