by Jim Bishop
HARRISONBURG, Va. – An Eastern Mennonite University alumnus who moved from the world of finance to “laying up” spiritual treasures in heaven spent several days at EMU as a visiting pastor and as a resource for Martin Luther King Day observances.
Leonard Dow, a 1987 graduate and former banker in Souderton, Pa., joined the Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia in 1990 and grew into leadership roles there. He was called to pastor the growing, multi-ethnic congregation in 1998. Oxford Circle congregation is a Partner in Mission with Franconia Conference.
Dow spoke several times on campus on the overall theme, “The Dangerous
Calling of the Gospel.” He reflected on the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader in a session Monday, Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day – in the Campus Center Greeting Hall.
Speaking on “A Clear and Present Danger,” Dow expressed concern that Martin Luther King Day “is becoming just another sentimental, commercialized event with many people having a day off work.”
But, he said, “it’s the responsibility of places like EMU not only to honor Dr. King,” but even more, “to move beyond the dream to emphasize what he preached, lived and died for – that people be united as one in Christ.”
Holding up a copy of the EMU mission statement – that includes a call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God – Dow told his audience that “if you apply this fully to your life, you will be ‘a clear and present danger’ in this world. People may hate you because of your faithfulness and obedience.
“Martin Luther King was killed not because of what he said, but because he lived out what he said and believed,” Dow declared.
“We are called as a church to become, as Dr. King said, a beloved community that brings together the marginalized of society, that views diversity as a gift and equality not as sameness but as value.”