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Putting a Human Face on Human Relations Day
This Sunday, January 17, we celebrate Human Relations Day – the first of six Special Sundays in The United Methodist Church, when special offerings are taken for specific purposes.
Human Relations Day was established by the 1972 General Conference to promote support for the Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service, and Police-Community Relations programs. Traditionally observed on the Sunday before the observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (though a local church may choose to observe it on another date), it has a historical relationship to the American Civil Rights Movement by virtue of its support for community development, with its justice and human rights implications. Established four years after Dr. King's death, this Special Sunday provides a method for positive expression by congregations, a means for them to show their support for the values Dr. King exemplified.
[Today, although the offering continues to go to Community Developers and Voluntary Service, the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program has replaced the Police-Community Relations Program – a change made in 1989, in response to the growing population of youth offenders and their need for creative redirection.]
This offering is the sole source of support for the Community Developers Program.
You may not know much about these programs – or may be unaware of the impact this special offering has had in our own Conference. That's why I've asked our communications office to put a human face on Human Relations Day in Cal-Nevada – and, in fact, on all the Special Sundays this year.
Before each Special Sunday, you'll be able to read in the Instant Connection, the "News" section of our Conference website, about someone right here at home who has benefited in some way from the designated offering.
This week, you'll read that the "face" of Human Relations Day belongs to:
· A Japanese-American former Buddhist saxophonist who plays blues in a United Methodist church – thanks to basketball;
· A young person devoted to helping others, after the suicide of a friend; and
· West Bank villagers given a better chance at life because of bees.
I encourage you to read their stories in the Instant Connection (along with other stories at www.umcgiving.org) – and then to give generously to the Human Relations Day offering on January 17.
Your brother in Christ,
Warner H. Brown, Jr.