A new interfaith service in Bangor will be one of the many events planned to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Maine on Sunday and Monday in observance of his birthday.
Faith Linking in Action, a nonprofit organization made up of houses of worship and people of faith in the Bangor area, organized the service to be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor at 120 Park St.
Participants from the Christian, Jewish, Islam and Native American traditions will take part in the service. The theme is “Racial and Ethnic Experiences Through the Generations.” Speakers of all ages including 20-year-old Amara Ifeji, who spoke out about experiencing racism at Bangor High School, will take part in the service.
Faith Linking in Action was founded about 10 years ago and is made up of Bangor area congregations and individuals who work on social justice issues from positions of faith.
“Our purpose is to engage, coach and support congregations, regardless of religious affiliation, and the members of communities they serve, to work together to address root causes of poverty,” the organization’s website says. “We educate the broader public and elected officials about our identified issues, and support faith communities to connect to work on these issues to their theological context.”
Chairperson Peg Olson said the group has been planning the service since August. It stepped in after St. John’s Episcopal Church and All Souls Congregational Church, both in Bangor, decided not to resume their joint ecumenical service after the pandemic. If successful, the interfaith service could become an annual event, she said.
The Rev. Andrew Moeller, minister of the Park Street church, said Thursday that hosting an interfaith service was the best way to honor King’s legacy of social justice.
“I feel compelled to keep Rev. Dr. King’s legacy alive by opening our sanctuary to the larger Bangor community for a service of remembrance and inspiration,” Moeller said. “It has been a true gift working with people from the interfaith group of Faith Linking In Action, who come from many different faith traditions to create a worship service that honors the wisdom of King and the many faiths that sustain us. Working together, we can do much more to heal our world from racism and inequality than trying to do it alone.”
Moeller said that King first and foremost was a Baptist preacher.
“Being a man of faith grounded him in the moral teachings of equality and justice and helped King become an outspoken champion of the civil rights movement and the Poor People’s Campaign,” the Bangor minister said. “We often see Rev. Dr. King as a civic leader, but when I think of King, I believe he could do and accomplish what he did not despite his faith, but because of it.”
Rabbi Sam Weiss of Congregation Beth El, Bangor’s Reform synagogue, will lead those attending the service in the song “Kol HaOlam Kulo.” He chose it because it “speaks to the necessity of interfaith dialogue in working for racial justice.”
The lyrics include: “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge; the main thing is not to be afraid.”
“Its lyrics suggest that all the people of the world are crossing the same bridge toward freedom, and that there is no way to cross that bridge without working together,” Weiss said Wednesday. “I am inspired by the idea that when we come together in shared hope, we can overcome fear — the very thing that so often drives us to hate or oppress one another.”
Other events to honor King include:
The 34th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Walk will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Participants will gather in Post Office Square and walk together to First Church, United Church of Christ, 104 Church St., for a celebration of King’s life and work. A Nonviolent Action and Community Organizing Training in the tradition of Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer will be offered at the church from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. For information, call Ethan Hughes at 338-5719.
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 114 Main St., will sponsor an event at 10 a.m. Monday. Krystal Williams, a Portland lawyer, will be the keynote speaker. She is the founder of and managing attorney for Providentia Group, a legal and business advisory firm in Portland, whose mission is to create economic equity through entrepreneurship. In 2020, she founded Alpha Legal Foundation, a nonprofit focused on diversifying the legal profession. She moved to Maine after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and welcomes being called by her trail name, Bumblebee.
The 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration will be held at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine. It is co-sponsored by the Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACP and the University of Maine Division of Student Life.
The keynote address, “Moving Dr. King’s Legacy Forward,” will be presented by three community activists: Janine Georgette, a performance and teaching artist for the past 50 years; Jacques H. Newell Taylor, an exercise design specialist and UMaine graduate student in social work; and Athena Witham, a public health educator at Bangor Public Health and Community Services. Music will be performed by Women With Wings.
Tickets are $20 for community members, faculty, staff and graduate students; $15 for children under 12. Free admission for UMaine undergraduate students. The snow date is Feb. 20. Out of respect for all people and all religions in attendance, no pork products will be served at this year’s breakfast.
The University of New England will hold its annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at noon Jan. 25 at Innovation Hall at the Portland campus and at Alfond Forum on the Biddeford campus. It also will be livestreamed. The event is held each year in honor of Dr. King’s visit to UNE’s precursor, St. Francis College in May 1964. This year’s theme, “You Have the Choice,” highlights the ways students and activists chose to be engaged change makers.
The Maine Council of Churches and the BTS Center, formerly Bangor Theological Seminary, will sponsor an online reading of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” at 12:15 p.m. Monday. The event will include a public reading featuring multiple voices, contemplative music and space for reflection. To register, visit https://www.tfaforms.com/5035177.