Shortly after the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, PPMC began honoring his life and legacy each year on his birthday, January 15. For more than a decade, Presby has celebrated Dr. King’s vision of racial equality, economic justice, and social activism by sharing uplifting, flash-mob-style musical performances with employees and visitors across the hospital.
This year’s group included veteran performers like retired chaplain Dennis Byrd and music therapist Bryan Muller, as well as a few new faces, such as EVS associate Xianling Meng, who was also born on January 15 but never takes the day off because she’d rather commemorate Dr. King.
Led by chaplain and Pastoral Care manager John Ehman, the traveling choir made stops at nursing stations, patient care units, and waiting areas and shared their message with nearly 250 patients, visitors, and staff. Between singing gospel songs like “We Shall Overcome,” Ehman also discussed Dr. King’s dream for a better world and pointed to the ways the audience was already serving others — such as caregiving, volunteering, or just sharing a smile.
As always, the group received a warm reception at each of their 12 stops, but they also gave one extra, unscheduled performance. “One special moment came when a family member who heard us singing on Cupp 5 South asked if we could come sing a song for his wife,” Ehman recalled. “The whole group squeezed into her doorway, and we sang a few verses of ‘This Little Light of Mine’ to the tearful delight of the patient and her husband. The patient was a choral singer herself, and it was an exceptionally personal and sweet moment.”
Plus, check out System News to learn why PPMC nurse Francoise Eberhardt received a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Recognition Award this year.