In MLK Day statement — Bishop McKnight cites vision of unity, respect for differences


The Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City, released the following statement in anticipation of the nation’s observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 15:

I invite everyone to spend time today praying and reflecting on the courage, wisdom and words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom our nation honors on this day.

In 1964, Dr. King wrote that, “Unity has never meant uniformity.” 

This sentence is quoted from Dr. King’s book, Why We Can’t Wait. In this chapter, Dr. King is referring to the many people who shared a vision — true equality for Black Americans — despite working toward that goal from different angles and perspectives. United in goal, they were far from uniform in their approach.

Dr. King saw this as a strength.

There is so much we can learn from this message in 2024 as we continue to battle the evils of racism, inequality and exclusion. 

In a society full of pressures that reward division, we must instead seek out a deeper truth — God’s truth — that unites us all.

Let us remember that all of us were made in God’s image, and through our charisms and gifts we each reflect the light of God in unique ways.

Pope Francis recently made a point that a society formed in the image of God is not “one-dimensional” or “monochrome.”

He said: “How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same.”

I invite all of us to spend this holiday honoring Dr. King by seeking out the light of God in ourselves and all of those around us — especially those who are excluded or seem different.

 Let our hearts open to others, and begin to move away the separation and division that hurt us.

The beauty of God is not uniform. It is written on 8 billion hearts in 8 billion ways.

Recognizing this beauty is the first step toward a stronger communion as God’s children — and finally realizing the dreams of Dr. King.