APU Seminary Event Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his passing, this year’s Malcolm R. Robertson Lectureship on Holy Living, hosted by Azusa Pacific Seminary, focused on social justice and its relationship to holiness. More than 350 attendees (nearly a 600 percent increase over the average attendance of past years’ events) gathered to gain a deeper understanding of the realities of social and racial tension and a clearer strategy for applying the principles of justice from leaders in the field. The lecture series culminated with engaging dialogue over a shared dinner for alumni and friends.

Keynote speaker Rev. Albert Tate, founder and lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia and member of the Boards of Trustees at APU and Fuller Youth Institute, delivered two lectures: “Holiness Redemption” and “Holiness Disruption.” A contributor to Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Moody Publishers, 2014), Tate reminded attendees of King’s timeless wisdom and made the case that the concept of holiness is incomplete without justice. Holiness has to do with wholeness, which includes redemption of people spiritually and physically, individually and collectively, and with justice as well as love.

A panel of alumni speakers rounded out Tate’s address. Moderated by Kay Wilson, D.Min. ’17, the panel discussion included: Doctor of Ministry candidate Tamala Kelly ’09, M.Div. ’14, pastor of The Purpose Church in Monrovia and founder and CEO of Empower 2 Purpose Ministries, which encourages women to pursue their purpose with passion; Doctor of Ministry candidate Fraser Venter, M.Div. ’06, lead pastor of the multisite and multilingual Cucamonga Christian Fellowship, leader in the Free Methodist denomination, and Board of Directors member for several justice and compassion organizations; and Derryck Green, D.Min. ’17, a political commentator, writer, West Coast regional director for the Maccabee Task Force Foundation, and a member of Project 21, a national leadership network of black conservatives.

The speakers and the discussions they inspired tackled the difficult questions about how to translate the truths heard at conferences such as this one into everyday life, how to allow the dialogue to cause a tangible change in individuals, and how to ignite that change in others. In the context of campus life at APU, that means the comprehensive recognition from all community members—administrators, staff members, faculty, and students—that every Christian must take responsibility for social justice. APU seminary hosts events that offer a platform for meaningful conversations, such as Black Lives Matter, Listen Los Angeles, Black Pain and Tears, and the most recent Lectureship on Holy Living: Holiness and Social Justice. These events facilitate an environment in which diverse ideas can be shared and many voices heard. Supporting that effort, the university also addresses social justice issues through chapel speakers; Diversity Ambassador training for administration, faculty, staff, and students; and the establishment of the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence, among others. While the process of social change takes time, work, and ongoing education, Azusa Pacific Seminary seeks to lead the discussion that leads to change and reconciliation, encouraging all members of the community to be intentional about the conversations they have in classrooms, in social settings, and in building relationships with people who are different from themselves.