Why do United Methodists observe Human Relations Day?

The Big Garden, founded in 2005 by United Methodist Ministries, cultivates food security by developing community gardens, creating opportunities to serve, and providing education on issues related to hunger. Photo courtesy of biggarden.org.
The Big Garden, founded in 2005 by United Methodist Ministries, cultivates food security by developing community gardens, creating opportunities to serve, and providing education on issues related to hunger. Photo courtesy of biggarden.org.

“Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.” — Romans 12:10, CEB

Every January, on the Sunday before the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, United Methodists come together to help bridge the gap between church and community. We do this by participating in an offering on Human Relations Day. For more than half a century, United Methodists have observed this churchwide special Sunday in recognition of the message Jesus demonstrated during his life: Every one of God’s children is important.

The church says...

The community provides the potential for nurturing human beings into the fullness of their humanity. We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals. Primary for us is the gospel understanding that all persons are important — because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ and not because they have merited significance. We therefore support social climates in which human communities are maintained and strengthened for the sake of all persons and their growth.
 ~ From The Nurturing Community, United Methodist Social Principles

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Human Relations Day FAQ

Resources for Human Relations Day from UMCGiving

Human Relations Day is one way United Methodists participate in Dr. King’s vision of “the beloved community.” That vision is for all people, leaders and institutions around the world to collaborate with such love in every community that hunger, poverty and homelessness are no longer allowed to exist.

Work toward the bold vision of the beloved community requires persistent, sustained and sustainable on-the-ground leadership. It calls for participation by people and communities around the world.

Our collective gifts on this day help build beloved community by supporting life-changing programs that reach out to neighborhoods and teens in crisis and share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.

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  • The Community Developers Program is a network of racial-ethnic congregations helping local communities thrive. They focus on such areas as small-business development, transitional housing, affordable housing, homelessness, literacy, racial equality, immigration and health and wellness.

  •  The United Methodist Voluntary Services Program supports community advocacy, raising awareness of problems like poverty and homelessness, human trafficking, immigration and environmental justice.

  •  The Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program addresses situations faced by incarcerated children and youth across the globe. This program positions young men and women for success as they find their way forward once again. In 2019, funding from Human Relations Day supported such programs in Chicago, Manila and across Western Congo

Human Relations Day reminds us of Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community that speaks of loving every neighbor as ourselves. It calls us into “neighborhood,” into being a neighbor, with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. We give thanks for those already working to bring the vision to reality and join together to continue this work of God’s kingdom more fully.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.