Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr.: Student essay winners

The Post-Crescent has published the winning essays, which will be read at tonight's MLK service. Read them here.


By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Friday, January 16, 2009

VSA Arts Display at Appleton Public Library

VSA Arts of Wisconsin, Paintings and Sculpture will be on display at the Appleton Public Library’s first floor exhibit space from January 2-February 27. This traveling exhibit contains award-winning artwork by Wisconsin adults with disabilities. Admission is free. The exhibit is open to the public during Library business hours.

Contact Reference and Information Services for further information at 920-832-6173

Legislative Advocacy Forum

Do you ever wonder how bills become law? Do you ever wonder how you can influence the legislation that is proposed? Well, if so, this event is for you!

Legislative Advocacy Forum
January 26, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
140 S. Green Bay Road, Neenah

The event is sponsored by ESTHER, a Fox Valley Interfaith Justice Organization, Citizen Action Wisconsin and the Association of Retired Americans. Forbes McIntosh, with Government Policy Solutions in Madison, will be our guest speaker and he will describe the legislative process. That will be followed by a panel of four area legislators who will talk about how we should contact them and how we can get to know them. They will then answer questions about legislation.

The Forum is free and open to the public.

Question? Email or call Connie Raether at 920-832-8990.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Monday, Jan. 19

APPLETON, WIS. -- A diversity scholar who believes in the power of turning dreams into reality will be the keynote speaker at the Fox Cities annual celebration honoring the man whose own dreams changed the United States.

Bola Delano-Oriaran will examine the question of what is each person's purpose in the world at the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Monday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel. The theme for this year's event is "Beyond Dr. King's Dream: Next Steps."

The celebration, co-sponsored by Lawrence University and Toward Community: Unity in Diversity, is free and open to the public. The Post-Crescent and WFRV-TV are media partners for the event.

Rev. Roger Bertschausen, who helped found the MLK celebration in 1992 and continues to serve in planning the annual event, calls Delano-Oriaran "someone who has made a real difference in the Fox Cities.

"I am excited to have Bola Delano-Oriaran keynoting this year's event," said Bertschausen, pastor at Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church. "In her work with students as well as her work with our community, she has promoted and exemplified Dr. King's dream."

An assistant professor of education at St. Norbert College, Delano-Oriaran shares her message of understanding the richness and value of diversity in society in a high-energy presentation. Ever since she organized a fund-raiser for a disabled homeless man as a 13-year-old in her native Nigeria, Delano-Oriaran has advocated the importance of each person's role in building a better community and world.

Delano-Oriaran saw her own dream of a place where all people could gather to celebrate their individual identities and experiences realized with the creation of the Fox Cities Rotary Multicultural Center in 2004.

Her efforts on behalf of diversity issues and community change have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Rotary Club of Appleton Charles and Patricia Heeter Outstanding Community Leadership Award and the St. Norbert College Bishop Robert F. Morneau Community Service Award. In 2000, the Wisconsin State Human Relations Association presented her with an Outstanding Human Relations Educator Award.

Highlighting the celebration will be the presentation by Toward Community of the annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty Unity in Diversity Award to an area individual who has made great strides in bringing different people in the community together. Delano-Oriaran was a recipient herself of this award in 2004.

"This year's celebration occurs the eve before the inauguration of the first African-American president in U. S. history," said Kathy Flores, chair of the MLK committee and a member of Toward Community. "Not only is this an exciting time, it truly is a realization of Dr. King's dream. I am excited to come together with citizens of the Fox Cities to hear Bola Delano-Oriaran share her vision of how we as a people can move forward together into the future and into the next steps of Dr. King."

The MLK celebration also will include music performances by the Kaukauna High School Concert Choir and Lawrence sophomore Isake Smith. Area students will read their winning essays addressing the question "Beyond Dr. King's Dream: Next Steps" as part of the celebration.

"This celebration is truly another example of how a community, sharing similar yet different cultural values, can come together and pay tribute to a dream, dreamt by many," said Mohammed Bey, acting assistant dean for multicultural affairs at Lawrence. "It is has been inspiring to witness the level of participation from the community for this event."

A sign language interpreter will be present for the program and a reception for all in attendance will follow.