Hispanic Ministries Committee service on Jan. 17 celebrates MLK Jr. legacy in wake of U.S. Capitol attack

When the diocesan Hispanic Ministries Committee gathered via Zoom this past fall to discern its plan and vision for 2021, part of what members decided on as a goal was to have more joint services and experiences as a way to bring their gifts to the wider diocese and to try to bring people from the margins of society and the center closer together.

MLK bulletin

St. Luke’s-San Lucas Church in Chelsea has had a long-held tradition of a bilingual church service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As part of the effort to have more services together, the committee joined St. Luke's-San Lucas in hosting a Spanish-language Martin Luther King Jr. service online on Sunday, Jan. 17 at noon. 

The recording of the livestream is available at www.facebook.com/lukelucaschelsea.

The Rev. Edwin Johnson, the rector of St. Mary’s Church in Dorchester and a member of the Hispanic Ministries Committee, preached at the service.  He explained in an interview how a big part of the committee's goal is work around asserting the place of Latinos within the larger structure and framework of engaging racial justice, an issue which seems more important than ever in the wake of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6.

“Oftentimes, when people think about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, they think about his impact in the United States and his impact within a movement that was African-American, and I think, for us, it’s important to do this to acknowledge that his work has had a tremendous impact on our Latino communities of all races, and that the time has come for us to engage with each other more about that and also to bring our gifts to the important work that we’re obviously needing to do right now around racial justice,” Johnson said.

“I think that this past week has given many of us images that we would love to forget, and I think it’s really important, whenever we’re presented with things that we want to reject and that should be rejected, we need to also make sure we’re spending enough time with the things we’re embracing. It’s not just about saying 'no' to what we saw that day [referring to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol]; it’s really about remembering what we’re saying 'yes' to, and that is our life together, that is our becoming beloved community together.”

The Rev. Edgar Gutierrez-Duarte, who serves as vicar at St. Luke’s-San Lucas and as a member of the committee, said in an interview that the joint service would seek to celebrate common heritage around Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy and prophetic voice, and be a statement of unity. 

“It is a celebration of the struggles that we have together," he said, and "of our unity as the people of God. It is a celebration of that unity and that we have a common martyr, a common hero, who is Martin Luther King Jr.,” Gutierrez-Duarte said. “It’s a statement of unity that we are one people, very diverse and, needless to say, this brings the right note in the climate we’re in.”

Gutierrez-Duarte said that in both in the church and in the nation, the time has come to start listening to one another not only about one another's dreams, but also about our hurts and where people’s actions come from.

“If we are separated, it’s time for us to have more services together, to have more conversations together and to listen to one another better,” Gutierrez-Duarte said. “If we are at the margins, for the people at the center to try to pay attention to what is being said at the margins, and for us, the people on the margins, to try to listen to what is the hurt that has led many [who are white] to feel disenfranchised and so angry and so violent. And so maybe, by having more of these experiences together, we can begin to heal.

"At this particular time, and with the events of Epiphany, the first thing that comes to mind is, they [the Capitol rioters] tried to kill the dream but they couldn't," Gutierrez-Duarte said. "They went up to the hill to kill the dream but they couldn't. I think that Martin Luther King Jr. would say--as Congress came together after [the attack on Jan. 6] to complete the task, and as we see actions that are being taken right now--that dream was not destroyed and the passion and the love that we have for one another and for the nation cannot be destroyed by the forces of darkness."

--Bridget K. Wood

Updated Jan. 19, 2021.