United Methodist churches observe 'Human Relations Day' to honor legacy of MLK Jr.

United Methodist Church
CrossRoads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizona is seen here in a Feb. 13, 2010. |

United Methodist Church congregations across the United States and abroad are observing “Human Relations Day” Sunday as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Known as a “special Sunday,” it is one of six such observances found on the annual UMC church calendar that is aimed at showcasing a fundamental calling of the Church. 

According to a statement posted on the UMC’s website, Human Relations Day is centered on helping to “bridge the gap between church and community.”

“For more than half a century, United Methodists have observed this churchwide special Sunday in recognition of the message Jesus demonstrated during his life: all of God’s children are important,” the UMC stated.

“On Human Relations Day, we join other UMC congregations in a special offering to support neighborhood ministries through Community Developers, community advocacy through United Methodist Voluntary Services and work with at-risk youth through the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. |

The UMC also stated that the special offering makes “an impact in communities where people struggle because they don’t have the tools or resources to reach their God-given potential.”

The UMC Book of Discipline notes that special Sundays like Human Relations Day are “placed on the calendar to make clear the calling of The Church as the people of God and to give persons the opportunity to contribute offerings to special programs.”

The five other annual special Sundays include Native American Ministries Day, United Methodist Committee on Relief Sunday, United Methodist Student Day, Peace with Justice Sunday, and World Communion Sunday.

Human Relations Day is one of many ways that various religious and secular groups are observing the weekend that includes a day honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Monday will mark the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service, in which many Americans use the holiday to engage in volunteer efforts in their respective communities.

“Citizens in all 50 states deliver meals, refurbish schools and community centers, and collect food and clothing. Volunteers also recruit mentors, support job-seekers, build homes and provide other services for veterans and military families, and help citizens improve their financial literacy skills,” notes the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“… the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a ‘day on, not a day off.’ This day of service helps to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, address social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

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