On January 22, an evening service in Oxford's Old Church will further celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Ceremony and deeds of service will honor MLK

Oxford College will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service on January 21, the national holiday commemorating King's birth. The following day an evening service in Oxford's Old Church will further celebrate his life, an observance that is also a part of Emory University's King Week.

Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service

On Tuesday, January 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Oxford’s Old Church, the college will observe its annual MLK service in a ceremony that will focus on King’s written legacy as read and interpreted by three keynote speakers. 

“The King Letters: A Retrospective" will feature Gregory Ellison, Julian Reid, and Tavares Stephens, who will collectively discuss King's writing.

Says Lyn Pace, Oxford College chaplain and sponsor of the event, ”I am delighted to bring three speakers of such stature to our campus. Their combined creativity, deep spiritual focus, and understanding of Dr. King’s legacy will, I am sure, make for an unforgettable evening. I am doubly proud that each is connected to Emory’s Candler School of Theology.”

Gregory Ellison is a member of the Emory College Hall of Fame, the first black male so honored. After graduating from Emory in 1999, Ellison continued his educational journey as a Presidential Scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary from which he received a master of divinity degree and a PhD in pastoral theology. Ten years after graduating, he returned to Emory University to join the faculty at Candler School of Theology, where he is currently an associate professor of pastoral care and counseling. In his second year of teaching at Candler, Ellison was honored as Faculty Person of the Year (2010–2011). Three years later, he received the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, Emory’s most prestigious faculty teaching honor. He is author of Cut Dead But Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men and Fearless Dialogues: A New Movement for Justice. He is an ordained Baptist minister who has served on the ministerial staffs at both Methodist and Presbyterian churches. 

Julian Reid describes his work as creating “music out of love for God and neighbor and in order to love God and neighbor.” In his hometown of Chicago, Reid grew up studying classical and jazz piano at Merit School of Music and also played classical, jazz, and gospel piano around the city. He has served in various music ministries at churches throughout his life, including serving as musical director for choirs and praise teams. He has toured as a musician around the world with various acts, including the magician Kenta Koga. As a member of the jazz group the JuJu Exchange, he and bandmates Nico Segal, Everett Reid, and Lane Beckstrom recently released their first album, Exchange. He received an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Yale University and is now pursuing a master of divinity degree at Emory’s Candler School of Theology.

Tavares Stephens is the creator of the spoken-word CD, Lend Me Your Ear, and the author of Soulfood Café, a book of poetry, and Reading Revolution, a biographical overview of people of African descent who have made important contributions to civilization. A former member of Poetry Atlanta’s National Poetry Slam Team, he is a former Teacher of the Year and a recipient of Turner Broadcasting’s Teacher Appreciation Award. He holds a master of divinity degree from Emory’s Candler School of Theology.

In addition to these speakers, the event will include performances by student musical groups Oxappella and the Voices of Praise gospel choir as well as the MLK Interdenominational Choir, composed of area singers. The presidents of Oxford’s Student Government Association and Black Student Alliance will welcome attendees and introduce the keynote speakers. Oxford Chaplain Lyn Pace and Dean Douglas Hicks will be giving the opening and closing remarks.

The service is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lyn Pace, Oxford College chaplain, at 770-784-8392.

Day of Service

Although there are no classes on January 21 in honor of the King holiday, many students and citizens of Oxford and Covington will rise early to spend several hours in service to the local community. The event is sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and student-led group Volunteer Oxford.

Says Ricardo Horne, assistant director of student leadership and involvement, “We intend for this event to serve as a catalyst for continued service, inspiring our students to identify their values and passions for making a positive difference. It is our hope that they will continue to serve beyond this annual day of service.”