Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.



Western Pennsylvania United Methodist leaders and churches will celebrate the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during services and community events on Jan. 18, 19 and 20, 2020. They'll honor the preacher who, in 1964 at age 35,  became the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was selected for his nonviolent leadership of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, work which he continued until April 4, 1968, when he was assassinated in Memphis, TN. 

Dr. King's belief in a 'beloved community' — a community characterized by justice, equality, and love — was deeply rooted in his Christian faith and he saw faith as a source of inspiration and tool for change. 

Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, was the speaker for Erie’s Martin Luther King Center's 10th annual Dr. King Awards dinner last Saturday.  See video at Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

"Every year since 1986, we have observed the King holiday, and the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. has not been fulfilled or achieved,” King III, 62, said in a telephone interview with the Erie Times-News. “We can fulfill that climate for freedom, justice and equality for humankind. We can live in peace. The King holiday gives us the opportunity to start anew every year."

Weekend  Celebrations

First UM Church in Ellwood City will host the annual community worship and celebration of the life of Dr. King on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. "Our theme for the 2020 Worship & Celebration service is based on the "Clarion Call" that Dr. King presented to this nation and the world regarding injustice," said the Rev. Angelique Bradford, pastor of Ellwood City First UMC. "We have dynamic preachers from across the region who will answer the question from their theological perspective.  Among the five speakers will be two United Methodist elders, the Rev. B.T. Gilligan, pastor of Nixon UMC, and the Rev. Raphael Koikoi, director of ministry and community development in the Greater Allegheny Valley.  A time of Koinonia ~ Christian fellowship--will follow the service. Download a flyer

Garden City UMC in Monroeville will host the annual service sponsored by the Greensburg and Pittsburgh Districts to honor the legacy of Dr. King at 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19. The Rev. Dr. DeNeice Welch, who has served as pastor of Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh's Manchester neighborhood since 2007, will be the preacher. Garden City’s choir and praise band will provide music. The offering received will support the MLK Jr. Memorial Scholarship established by the Greensburg and Pittsburgh Districts to assist seminary students who have been called, and have responded in active ways to put an end to racism.

In Indiana PA, Grace UMC will host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Program and Fellowship Luncheon will on Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The guest speaker will be Kristin Shymoniak, a native of Aliquippa and University of Pittsburgh graduate who is the lead special education teacher at an  elementary school in Alexandria, Va. and serves on District of Columbia Mayor's Commission on African American Affairs. She'll present "Code Red: Reimagining Destiny and a New Frontier."  Admission is free and all are welcome. The event is sponsored by the Indiana County NAACP.

In Sharon, PA, UM Churches will participate in the Shenango Valley Ministerial Association’s Martin Luther King observance, “The Journey of a King,” scheduled for 4 p.m., Jan. 19 at Hope Center for Arts and Technology, 115 Anson Way, Sharon. Guest speaker will be Pastor Russell V. Penn Jr. of Second Missionary Baptist Church, Farrell. Rev. Doug Dyson, pastor of Sharon First UMC, notes that the Center has a gallery exhibit dedicated to Dr. King. Download poster

Human Relations Sunday, a churchwide Special Sunday will be observed in most churches on Jan. 19. It is celebrated on the Sunday before the observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It acknowledges the right of all God's children to reach their potential, and calls all churches to strengthen United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States through supporting social justice and work with at-risk youth. Get worship and other resources from UMCGiving.

Day of Service

The Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday on Jan. 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The Corporation for National and Community service has been charged to lead this effort and offers a search tool to find opportunities to serve in specific areas.