Photo: Martin Luther King Jr.’s kitchen in Montgomery, Ala. Photo courtesy of Leslie Clagett
On Sunday, January 15, 2012, you are invited to participate in a community-by-community, nationwide conversation about our most pressing social issues in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is an opportunity for individuals to reach out to new persons and build community over a shared meal.
Inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., America's Sunday Supper invites people from all backgrounds to come together to share a meal, discuss issues that affect their community and highlight the power each person has to make a difference!
The 2012 event is a collaboration promoted by HandsOn Network, Points of Light Institute and Rethink Church. Neelley Hicks, a UM Communications staff executive, reflected on a visit to a civil rights exhibit in Memphis, Tenn.
“I still remember how I felt reading about Dr. Martin Luther King’s 'kitchen table' experience,” said Hicks. “In January of 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King struggled for courage to keep up the fight that would later become known as the civil rights movement. After having his life threatened, King went to his kitchen table and had a conversation with God – expressing his doubts as a leader and asking for guidance."
“I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward.
“The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. ‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid…I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.
“At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: ‘Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.’ Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.”
--Martin Luther King, Stride Toward Freedom
The Memphis art exhibit featured a kitchen table with a coffee cup humbly displayed along with those words: “The table was simply made, but it echoed the holiness of communion – Christ at the table – feeding one who was hungry with something more than physical sustenance – the power to go on,” said Hicks.
“King’s table experience empowered him to feed others – to share a vision of something much larger than any one life – and to inspire others to fight for that something more.
Elsewhere in the exhibit were pictures of lives lost and maimed, exposing the ugliness of humanity’s bent toward oppression. Yet that ugliness was diminished and overshadowed by the power to overcome, and it was that power that dominated my experience.
“In the last few weeks, I’ve been working on 'America’s Sunday Supper' supported by Rethink Church and HandsOn Network. It’s a way for people to come together on January 15, 2012 (the day before the King National Day of Observance) and talk about issues over dinner – then follow with a service project.
"Hosting a Sunday supper isn’t like taking to the streets and putting my life on the line. But if it creates an opportunity for me to meet God at the table and eat in the communion of saints (and sinners), I’ll be there.”
For more info about America’s Sunday Supper, go to www.sundaysupperumc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.