Honoring Martin Luther King

Celebrations begin with community dinner, worship ceremony

Celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., is something that many consider both a secular and religious experience.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration Planning Committee held both a Community Fellowship Supper at New Providence Presbyterian Church and a Community Worship Service at High Praises Church.

Sharon Hannum, chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration Planning Committee, said events went well and that faith played a big part in the planning.

“I thought it was just fantastic. It’s intentional on our part to go higher and higher. We don’t want to ever be guilty of doing things for the wrong reasons - doing it because a date rolls around annually,” Hannum said.

Hannum said the planning committee is particular about making sure Dr. King’s memory is honored. “A lot of thought and planning goes into this. I seek the Lord about our presentation. I’m in prayer about that, and we plan for about eight or nine months for the event,” she said. “When you’re doing something that has six or seven events, it takes a lot of logistical planning. I was extremely pleased with the way all the events turned out. The key for all that is keeping God first.”

Christy Fightmaster, also a member of the planning committee, said the Community Fellowship Supper is a great time for the community to come together and really just share a meal. “It’s an evening open to all Blount County, not just Maryville or Alcoa. It’s for the community at large and is a great kick-off event for us to tell those gathered about the rest of the events planned,” she said. “It has turned into one of my favorite events of the week.”

Jackie Midkiff, pastor of High Praises Church, said Dr. King stood for coming together past every denominational or racially boundary that would separate people. “He was for getting rid of those boundaries,” Midkiff said. “When we come together in the worship service and fellowship dinner, I believe it is in fact honoring him and his vision and keeping alive what he had such a strong passion for.”

Steve Musick, associate pastor for Pastoral Care and Outreach at New Providence Presbyterian Church, said the Community Worship Service was powerful. “I would use the word ‘anointed.’ It was a place where the Holy Spirit was alive and thriving. It was great,” he said. “It was a powerful service, and it went well. It felt very professional and very well thought out.”

Musick said honoring the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., should involve both secular and religious activities.

“His Christian faith was the sponsor of all the stuff he did. His Christian faith was also a very inclusive and welcoming faith,” Musick said.

“While this was definitely a Christian worship service, the fact it happened in the context of other events where everyone understands how important it is for all people to be united beyond all the barriers that keep us apart, that was crucial. We have to have the secular and religious events to give him proper honor.”

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