Dr. Otis Moss gives message on leadership at Campbellsville University’s convocation in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Otis Moss Jr. said, "God calls us to be leaders, servant leaders," at chapel Feb. 21. (CU Photo by Joan C. McKinney)
Dr. Otis Moss Jr. said, “God calls us to be leaders, servant leaders,” at chapel Feb. 21. (CU Photo by Joan C. McKinney)

By Josh Christian, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY- “Leaders help build bridges and create ladders. Rulers help build walls and burn bridges,” Dr. Otis Moss, pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, who worked as a close associate with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil right movement, said at Campbellsville University’s chapel service on the university’s campus Feb. 21 in Ransdell Chapel.

“I’d like to commend the students and wish for your greatness in life. We are literally depending on you to do great things,” Moss said.

Moss addressed the students, faculty and staff in attendance, suggesting the students and their generation are the ones who can make the further changes that are needed in our culture.

Moss enjoyed a close and personal relationship with King and has continued his work fighting the ills of our society. He serves as a national board member and trustee for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.

Moss referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youth.

“He was taken 50 years ago too soon. He had been executed so early, every image we have of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in his youth, vibrant and elegant,” Moss said.

“He represents the awesome responsibilities placed on the young and the challenges before the seniors of every generation,” Moss said.

Moss quoted the Apostle Paul’s words from chapter six of the book of Galatians from the New Revised Standard Version.

“Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up,” Moss said.

“The ultimate measure of individuals is not when they stand in comfort and convenience, but in danger and difficulty,” Moss said.

Moss made sure to distinguish the difference between a leader and a ruler.

“God calls us to be leaders, servant leaders,” Moss said.

Moss explained that leaders were kind, generous, passionate, sensitive and courageous, while rulers were dangerous, mean spirited, insecure and hungry for recognition.

“I appeal to you to be leaders, servant leaders. Do not grow weary of good. You will reap a great harvest if you don’t give up,” Moss said.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was this type of leader, which God spent a great deal of time preparing, according to Moss.“Of the 39 brief and intense years of Dr. King’s life, 26 years were spent in preparation for leadership,” Moss said.

Moss mentioned Morehouse College, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to college, and that if it wasn’t for a board of trustees member who argued to keep Morehouse open in the time of a military draft and to admit students at a younger age, the college would have closed. Dr. King, as well as several servant leaders, benefited from this change and Morehouse stayed open.

“Through vision, courage and leadership, God opened a new door,” Moss said.

Dr. Joseph Owens, left, a member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, and Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the CU School of Theology, places the Campbellsville University Leadership Award on Dr. Otis Moss Jr. (CU Photo by Luke Young)
Dr. Joseph Owens, left, a member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, and Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the CU School of Theology, places the Campbellsville University Leadership Award on Dr. Otis Moss Jr. (CU Photo by Luke Young)

“Through that door walked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Moss said.

As a result of his work and long term influence, Moss argued Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had helped to elect several presidents including President John F. Kennedy, and in 2008, President Barack Obama.

“In your time and space, through God’s grace, you can make a difference,” Moss told the audience.

Moss was awarded the Campbellsville University Leadership award during the ceremony. Making the presentation were Dr. Joe Owens, a member and former chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees; Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the CU School of Theology, and Dr. John Chowning, executive assistant to the president for government, community and constituent relations, who introduced Moss and who was responsible for his appearance at CU.

The Campbellsville University Leadership Award is a cast bronze replica of the seal of the university proclaiming the universal attributes of fellowship, leadership and scholarship.

Moss received the award for his dedicated career and years of service as a Christian servant leader, theologian, pastor, civic leader, civil rights leader, and other numerous professional accomplishments in service to the Kingdom of God.