By PAIGE PERRY,Class 24
Major Gifts Officer, Mayo Clinic
While Arizona is known for our sunshine and golf, we are sadly not known as one of the first states to observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. As a longtime Arizona resident, I remember the arguments from both sides about whether we should observe this day in Rev. Dr. King’s honor, which is why it was an honor for me to attend the 25th Anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on March 11th and hear from the advocates for this holiday.
The most enlightening portion of the morning was the “Prayers for God’s People.” This set the tone for a morning advocating understanding, peace and love through communication and education. Dr. Paul Eppinger called on different religious leaders to say a prayer. We heard a beautiful Muslim prayer that sounds more like a song, Hindu and Christian prayers, a spiritual song for the people of Haiti. It’s amazing to me that while all the prayers that were said were about love and honoring a higher power we have a few extremists whose actions have caused religious wars throughout the years and through the lands.
Rev. Warren Stewart, senior pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church, presented a powerful message focused on justice and righteousness, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. In a world that seems determined to use violent force to make our opinions known, it is good to hear about impactful people, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who centered their fight around love and non-violent resistance. He wanted the civil rights movement to be fought in the spiritual world and through prayer, as opposed to violence, anger and fear. Through his mission of “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” he proved himself to be a man who represents love and peace.
Dr. Stewart took us through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Prayer and Action, which asks for prayer for God’s help and guidance, and racial and economic justice. Dr. Stewart asked that the members of the audience add to the list with a few more things that may be worthy of prayers and thoughts, such as praying for revolutionary love for all human beings, which has the greatest power to transform. He had us think about praying for peace and an end to violence. He assumed most of us would not shoot someone out of anger, but we do express or dwell on our hatred of that person, which also expels negativity into the universe. Lastly, he had us think about praying for just immigration reform, remembering that our ancestors were also immigrants.
While I’m not religious in a conventional way, I do consider myself spiritual. This may be why I think it is so wonderful we have Dr. Eppinger leading the Interfaith Movement. So much more can be accomplished by having a diverse group of people gather to create peace and understanding through education. This would be an event King Jr. would be proud to attach his name to.