By Miriam Wolf
Reverend Amos Gray from Hot Springs, Arkansas spoke to students and faculty at Concordia in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, discussing the importance of legacy, acceptance, and understanding.
Rev. Gray is a Lutheran pastor and founder of High Impact Ministries, an organization created to bring youth closer to Jesus. Instead of utilizing a typical approach to Martin Luther King Jr. Day such as discussing the life of Dr. King or Rosa Parks, Rev. Gray decided to teach the audience about his own family.
“Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks are from a long time ago,” Gray explained. “Sometimes they feel more like history than real people.”
Rev. Gray started his speech by having the audience sing Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song that his grandmother would sing every morning. He then talked about his family history, detailing how his great grandparents were a slave and a slave owner.
Despite this, Rev. Gray maintained the fact that he was thankful for his great grandparents. He put pictures of his grandfather and father on the screen next to his great-grandfather.
“Without this man,” he said, gesturing to his great-grandfather, “these other two men don’t exist. And that means that I don’t exist.”
Rev. Gray also pointed out some of the things that his family did. His father belonged to the first all-Black paratrooper unit and fought during World War II. His aunt was the first Black woman to integrate into Hall High School in Arkansas.
Professor Russ Sommerfeld said, “His family story was powerful. He honored his family member’s sacrifices for him and future generations and called us to sacrifice for those who will come after us.”
Sommerfeld said that he hoped it would inspire Concordia students in the future.
“I pray that students learned that giving the unfairness and pain of life to Jesus can overpower division with love,” he said.
Sophomore Anna Royuk also enjoyed Rev. Gray’s speech.
“I really appreciated Reverend Gray’s emphasis on Christian unity,” Royuk said. “All of us are given the opportunity to love people around us, and that’s all we have to do to bring each other closer, bridge divides, and follow God’s call.
Rev. Gray is a Lutheran pastor and founder of High Impact Ministries, an organization created to bring youth closer to Jesus.