Human Relations Day falls on the Sunday before the national observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, this year on January 17 when we remember that God’s love is limitless for all and is manifested in many ways.
Falling on the second Sunday after the Epiphany, it is a day when United Methodists broaden their outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with the marginalized including at-risk youth, much like Dr. King did 60 years ago.
As the pandemic bears down on our most vulnerable communities, throughout 2020 we saw how our churches offered a hand to those who are suffering because they didn’t have the tools or resources to reach their God-given potential. Plans are already underway to continue these ministries well into 2021 and beyond.
Dr. King’s legacy gives us hope that one person can make a difference, and that when that burden is shouldered by many other people, the impact can be life changing and full of vitality.
From the 70,000+ meals given out each month and the shelter given to the homeless to the free legal services for immigrants and the thousands of diapers given to mothers living in underserved communities, GNJ has shown that it cares for all God’s children. A Journey of Hope has been created by a group of concerted United Methodists dedicated to working toward ending the sin of racism and integrate the work in the mission and life of GNJ.
As we look toward a new beginning in 2021 and in the years ahead, we are reminded and guided by the words and actions of Jesus as he stood up for injustice and shepherded a compassion for others that still lives in others today. His voice was heard. The signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which marked the first International Human Rights Day, proclaimed all inhabitants of this world should be respected regardless of their race, skin-tone, gender, age and country of origin, language, religion, personal persuasion, abilities, political opinion, property or social status.
On December 10, 2020, the day’s observances were dedicated to “Recover Better” in recognition of the disparity of COVID cases among minorities in hopes that healthcare would become more equitable.
Eleanor Roosevelt, who led the U.S. delegation to the original conference in 1948, said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
These “small places” are our churches where step by step change can happen as A Journey of Hope is rolled out. More details can be found on the GNJ website.
Offerings received on Human Relations Day are distributed to Community Developers Program: 57 percent (General Board of Global Ministries); United Methodist Voluntary Services Program: 33 percent (General Board of Global Ministries); and Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program: 10 percent (General Board of Church and Society.
Digital promotional materials can be found here: www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/umcgiving?category=2745.