In honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day this Monday January 17th, we at Berkeley School of Theology asked several members of our community to reflect on Dr. King Jr.’s impact and legacy and what it means today. We’re so grateful to share their thoughts below.

Providing theological education in Christian theology and ethics is a humbling and worthy task. Too readily, instruction may be fixated on dogmatic and theological “certainties” that provides personal assurances of one’s ideological positions on the Right or Left, without consideration for how it afflicts the lives of other people. In an interview on May 8, 1967, at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that “optimism (idealism) must be tempered with realism” and the task at hand for our nation was to pursue a “revolution of values” under a “new architecture of societal structure.” His shift in thought occurs post-1965, following the passages of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the 1967 interview, King shared his “dream had turned into a nightmare” given the nations turn to war and its neglect to address the needs of African Americans, oppressed and poor people. Though filled with despair, he was still hopeful, for the future, if our nation took the necessary steps toward equality and justice.

King’s broad and deep theological education was the foundation for his assessment of our nation’s social condition. His perspective was based on his thorough academic studies, openness of thought, and engagement with history, sociology and the experience of people. People who were abused and oppressed by people who controlled the economic resources (jobs and lending), housing opportunities and educational institutions. An education in theology and ethics calls for the same breadth and depth of education achieved by Dr. King. An assessment of our nation’s current social condition compels humanity to seek a revolution of values. In this moment, these values must speak to the need to reaffirm voting rights in our nation that King and his contemporaries worked to pass into federal law.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence. It was delivered April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church, New York City. Dr. King warned, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” What Dr. King was pointing to was the cunning and deceiving ways of silence and how it creates a more cruel and divided society. In order to break free of this behavior hurting everyone one must be willing to learn new things and act on new insights.

This moment calls for a true revolution of moral ways that redeems the soul of our communities and counters a belief of hierarchy of wealth and power over human value. Faith folks are called upon more than ever to stand for bold policies. Bold policies that address the root causes of poverty and refocuses resources to which enable the most effective public safety measures. This looks like prioritizing the most effective strategies to solve crime while at the same time prioritizing the investment in policies around such things as worker rights, affordable housing, mental health services, and violence prevention. It fiscally and spiritually costs us too much to allow the illusion of silence to keep us divided. In the end, Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was about embodying a better understanding of what’s at stake, so that we can reimagine what is possible. Let us embrace this moment as an opportunity to collectively forge a new pathway which stops the violence, heals our souls, and reimagines safer communities.

Congratulations and Happy Retirement to BST Alum and Trustee Rev. Dr. Tim Phillips (D.Min ‘18) as he finishes out his ministry at First Baptist Seattle in early February. Tim, along with his spouse Patrick, has faithfully served FBC Seattle for 13 years and has been active as a member of the BST Board of Trustees since 2015.

We at BST have been so blessed by Tim and his leadership in our institution and join with his FBC Seattle family in wishing him and Patrick all the best as they transition into a new period in their lives.

This is an excerpt from J.Alfred Smith Sr.’s article on Baptist News Global. You can read Dr. Smith’s full article here.

Schools and streets have been named after Martin Luther King Jr. Churches and libraries are named after him. He is the only African American and the only American clergy honored with a national holiday. In many countries around the world, he is numbered with global heroes like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

Some discredited him by calling him a communist, a detractor and troublemaker. Sophisticated ideological historians are deconstructing his history in order to distort the powerful truth of his ministry. Those who pass laws against teaching Critical Race Theory are making sure that present and coming generations will not learn as Professor Cornel West said, that King’s universal religious commitments led him to internationalize the American ideals of democracy, freedom and equality.

Those who misrepresent King and Critical Race Theory are illogical, and they only reveal their fear of him. There is no need to fear this American Black preacher who preached nonviolence and love. King was a peaceful warrior who was radically obedient to Jesus, who taught us to love even our enemies.

Turning 72 in 2022? Happy Birthday and a tax-tip for you!

If you’re turning 72 in 2022, you’ll want to be aware of your required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement accounts. Your required minimum distribution (RMD) is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your retirement accounts each year. This applies to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), SIMPLE IRAs, and SEP IRAs. Of course, you can give more than your RMD to a charitable organization, like BST, and it has the added tax-advantage of counting toward your Quality Charity Donation (QCD). The QCD regulations allows you, starting at age 70½, to instruct your IRA administrator to direct IRA distributions —up to $100,000 per year — to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity like BST. This process must be initiated by you and your IRA custodian. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact a BST Advancement team member here.

Berkeley School of Theology mourns the loss of Jerold (Jerry) Sutton (‘59) who passed away in December 2021. Jerry served churches in Bozeman, Mont., and in Gig Harbor, Hoquiam, and Lynnwood, WA while living in Edmonds, WA with his wife Bonnie for 49 years. Upon retirement he attended FBC Seattle and was most recently residing in Lynnwood with Bonnie. Our deepest condolences to Bonnie, his children and grandchildren, and all of his loved ones.

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