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Using the Family Pledge of Nonviolence for Dr. King Sunday & Beyond:
Preparation, Celebration & Commitment, and Living It Afterwards

On the last Sunday of December in 2002, in preparation for our celebration of Martin Luther King, we gave each family in our church two copies of the Family Pledge of Nonviolence.  We asked them to reflect, pray and discuss the Pledge together as a family and then to sign both copies.  One copy was kept at home as a reminder of what had been promised; the second copy was returned to the church.

We also gave each family a small paper circle on which to write their family name and then decorate it with their dream of peace.  The finished "ornaments" were then hung on our unlit peace tree in the church, and the signed pledges were collected into a special book.  Both of these are placed next to an icon of Dr. King.

On the third Sunday of January, when we celebrated Dr. King at all our parish worship services, we proclaimed a reading from the King Center on living nonviolently today.  After the proclamation, all were invited to recite aloud the Family Pledge of Nonviolence.  After this recitation, we lit the peace tree as a sign that people struggling to live nonviolently offer hope and light in these times of darkness.  We continue to re-light the peace tree in our church as a reminder of what we dream for our world and what we have promised in order to make that dream come true.

For more information, contact
Sr. Chris Koelhoffer, IHM, at chrisedges@aol.com
Christ the King Church
Springfield Gardens, NY

Note: For quotations from Dr. King, see also "Helping Families Respond to Dr. King’s Call to Challenge Racism, Materialism, and Militarism" and "A Call to Discipleship – Reflections for Dr. King Celebration Liturgies"