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“Good Friday may occupy the throne for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumph and beat of the drums of Easter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) rallied victims of oppression throughout his years of civil rights activism with the hope inspired by his Christian faith. Be it the words above (from a 1956 speech) or his prediction of a “promised land” the night before his assassination 50 years ago, King never lost hope.

Marsh Chapel, which in 2018 is emphasizing the civil rights leader’s optimism that justice would prevail, has christened its 12th annual summer preaching series “Toward a Common Hope.” Services are held each Sunday at 11 am and are broadcast live on WBUR, the University’s National Public Radio station.

“If religion is to contribute to a global renewal of hope, it will have to transcend its own descent into tribalism and realize its vocation to incarnate truth and justice for all,” says Brother Lawrence Whitney (STH’09,’18), University chaplain for community life, who was the series’ lead-off homilist Sunday, July 1, 2018.

The Rev. Victoria Gaskell, Marsh’s chapel associate for Methodist students, will preach two Sundays, with both homilies centered, she says, on the Holy Spirit, and each stressing a different virtue. One will discuss “truth-telling as the foundation for a common hope,” she says, the second, will explore how “being open to the unexpected is one building block for the development of a common hope.”

The Rev. Robert Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, chooses the theme for each summer’s preaching series. Hill, who will preach on three Sundays this summer, prefaced 2018’s theme in a sermon he gave earlier this year that meditated on the common hope of solutions to inequality, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and other public scourges:

“We await a common hope, finally a hope not of this world, but of this world as a field of formation for another, not just creation, but a new creation, not just life, but eternal life, not just health, but salvation, not just a heart, but soul, not just earth, but heaven.”

Although most BU students are currently not on campus, Hill has said that many people, especially those from other countries, listen to Marsh’s summer services on WBUR and on the internet, either live or later via podcast.

The summer series dates to 2007. That inaugural year, he’s also said, the sermons, which dealt with the Iraq War, generated a lot of comments and discussion from congregants.

Poster for the Marsh Chapel Summer Preaching Series, 2018
The summer 2018 preaching schedule is as follows: Hill on July 8 and 29 and August 19; Gaskell on July 15 and August 5; the Rev. Regina L. Walton, pastor and rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Newton Corner, Mass., on July 22; the Rev. Karen Coleman, BU’s associate chaplain for Episcopal ministry, on August 12; and wrapping up the series, the Rev. Scott Donahue-Martens (STH’18), a doctoral student in homiletics, on August 26.