Date: January 24, 2008
On Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 21, as part of a weeklong celebration of the life and ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrews University held a convocation and awards ceremony at the Howard Performing Arts Center. A number of local citizens and organizations were honored for their service to the community with the 2008 MLK Legacy of Freedom Award. Recipients who received the award were congratulated by President Niels-Erik Andreasen and Provost Heather Knight. This year's recipients were:
Princella Tobias, founder and CEO of the Benton Spirit Community Newspaper, was born in Buchanan, Mich. The University’s tribute for her award reads: "Ms. Tobias was voted to receive the University’s 2008 Martin Luther King Legacy of Freedom award because of her passion, courage, commitment and generous service to Southwest Michigan. Ms. Tobias fully supports Dr. King's core legacy: people, not power, come first; service, not status, is the mission; community, not party, is the priority. In this spirit, Ms. Tobias weekly takes up the torch of freedom and holds it as a guide to all who dare to move into the marvelous light of justice, inclusion and peace."
David Cooke and David Brown of Great Lakes Eye Care, for their service to the Berrien Springs community and medical missionary work in third-world countries. "Great Lakes Eye Care was voted to receive the 2008 Martin Luther King Legacy of Freedom Award because it aggressively and joyfully fulfills its corporate mission to emulate the Prince of Peace’s example of freely giving compassionate healing to anyone in need."
Band of Brethren in Christ, a group that was founded in 2005, received the award for following their mission to improve the quality of life in Southwest Michigan through developing talents of leadership, education and intergenerational mentoring programs.
Stella Greig, who throughout her career as a professor has worked to develop deeper cultural understanding at Andrews University, was voted to receive the award because she is Andrews University’s tireless advocate for justice, inclusion, equity, and diversity. She was a key designer and first director of the Andrews University English Language Institute, a cornerstone of Andrews University’s diversity profile. Over the course of her career, Greig has helped "build bridges of peace over the troubled waters of workplace harassment, discrimination, ethnic/cultural misunderstanding and residual systematic racism."
Lynn Gray, an emergency medical physician whose work as a member of the Andrews University Board of Trustees has contributed much to building unity among diverse University stakeholders. Gray was nominated for the award "for the pivotal role he played recently in promoting peace among the University’s governing constituents. As a member of the Board of Trustees, he distinguished himself for offering solutions to challenges that often cripple similar institutions. His consummate skills in quality case management enable Andrews University’s stakeholders to 'dwell together in unity.'"
Carolyn Schrock-Shenk, associate professor of Peace, Justice and Conflict at Goshen College, delivered the keynote address, "The Task is for Everyone: Peacemaking as a Way of Life." While a competent academician, she prefers to label herself as a practicing maker of peace and conflict resolver. She revealed that her most challenging peacemaking assignment has been "to make peace with myself" after becoming paralyzed from her chest down.
The day’s events concluded with student-led panel discussions. Representatives from Social Workers Acting Together (S.W.A.T.) and the Andrews Pre-Law Club approached the central subject of peacemaking. Members of ACTION, a student-led social advocacy group, also led a presentation on "Peacemaking in Darfur: Challenges and Possibilities."
Andrew Gerard, a junior anthropology major, and founder of ACTION, noted the relevance of discussing Darfur on Martin Luther King Day. "An important but often overlooked element of King's message is that of working for peace and justice outside of our own personal contexts," said Gerard. "The genocide in Darfur is just one example of an opportunity for us to spread our love and desire to see peace and justice thrive. I was happy to be able to help organize an event focusing on the challenges and possibilities involved in this complex but mend-able crisis."