On being a good neighbor
As the planning committee for the national staff Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. observations contemplated the theme for this year’s justice walk, we could not imagine how relevant the final theme choice would be for events yet to come. Serving as the theme of the 2010 justice walk, “On Being a Good Neighbor” is the title of a speech the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956. It is within this speech Dr. King asserts that the ultimate measure of a man [woman] is not where he [she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [she] stands at times of challenge and controversy.
It would be a few weeks later that the world would witness the devastation of a massive earthquake in Haiti, followed by another earthquake in Chile. The response by the faith community and others to these traumatic experiences has provided opportunities for continued reflection on what it truly means to be a good neighbor within and across diverse cultures, both near and far.
The 2010 PC(USA) justice walk began with a short worship at the PC(USA) national offices, followed by a group walk to two locations of significance to reflect on Louisville’s involvement with the Underground Railroad, immigrant activism and faith in community. The first stop was the Ohio River at Waterfront Park, where Dr. Blaine Hudson, dean of the College of Arts and Science, and associate professor of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville reflected on the Ohio River as a significant crossing in Louisville’s Underground Railroad. The second stop was the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery office, where the Reverend Edgar Mansilla, executive director of the Americana Community Center, reflected on past and present immigration issues.
Sharing and connecting historical and contemporary collaborative relationships, individuals and groups from the PC(USA) and the Louisville community reflected on what is believed to be one of the most powerful and sustained multiracial and multicultural human rights movements; the Underground Railroad. Answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” the ministry of the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery through its African American Commission and Hispanic/Latino Commission serves today as a beacon in addressing the needs of diverse communities and pertinent issues such as education and immigration.