Movement Remembers Martin Luther King Jr.
By Carl Stagner
Throughout the year—not just on the third Monday of January—Church of God leaders and congregations choose to intentionally remember and reflect upon the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Whether by hosting special ceremonies with song, Scripture, and multimedia tributes; sponsoring a community “day of service” projects and activities; or by participating in established, annual local events, like rallies, marches, and film screenings, Church of God people are certainly among those who thank God for the trailblazing work of King and so many likeminded leaders throughout history into the modern day.
York Avenue Church of God in Warren, Ohio, is one example. They’re partnering with the community for “Beyond the Dream,” an MLK Day workshop specifically designed for young people. The event is ecumenical and involves partnership with local organizations beyond the church sector. Additionally, they cross-promoted a special church service sponsored by the county interdenominational alliance, which took place the evening before the holiday.
In Kansas, the city of Liberal saw its first-ever MLK Sponsorship Breakfast, part of a packed, four-day celebration leading up to, and including, the holiday itself. South Church of God leadership played coordinating roles in the effort. The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee hosted a variety of creative and God-honoring components to the extended celebration of unity “in celebrating the dream and continuing the journey.” Featured elements of the celebration including the flying of forty flags, marking the fortieth year since King’s birthday became a national holiday.
First Church of God of Lenoir, North Carolina, has urged its members and community to gather in nearby Charlotte at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for a special event featuring keynote speaker Rev. Charlie Rivens. The theme of the event is “Reclaiming the Dream: Unity, Justice, Love.”
Many from the congregation at Park Place Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, will join their neighbors from the city and Anderson University for several opportunities to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a meaningful manner. This year, Anderson University is hosting related events throughout the day, including, but not limited to, the recurring “Peace and Justice March” from Reardon Auditorium on campus to the Paramount Theatre downtown. A citywide celebration will follow at the Paramount, lunch and MLK Day “Reflections and Action Steps” will follow, as will as the presentation of a one-act play about an imagined conversation between Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific University, and Warner University are also each inviting campus and community to take time for special reflection and application concerning the great depth of meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Special chapel speakers, as well as service project opportunities, are among the annual opportunities for students and staff. Across the Church of God movement in the United States, numerous other pastors are taking part in civic programs paying tribute to Dr. King and his legacy; others took time in their Sunday morning programming to give space for reflection and consideration regarding civil rights, justice, and racial reconciliation.
Stay tuned to CHOGnews and Church of God Ministries social media for more honor and tribute given to African American leaders in church and society throughout February as we celebrate Black History Month.
Editor’s note—one of the most inspirational interviews we’ve ever conducted was with the late Rev. John Foster who, at the time, served Meadville, Pennsylvania’s Boynton Street Church of God. His story of personal interaction with the civil rights icon is chronicled in the 2012 story, “Unforgettable: A Pastor’s Interaction with Martin Luther King Jr.” Read it here.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Leaders stand in acknowledgement of King’s legacy at the Liberal, Kansas, MLK breakfast.