Christ Church, MLK Day and Me
Christ Church has been holding special services around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday since the late 90’s. In the early years we participated with our friend Rev. Sylvester Weatherall and the good people of the Washington Park UMC. When Sylvester moved to Springfield in the early 2000’s, the next January came around and there was no Metro-East celebration to attend. I found the silence deafening. After a one year silence, God spoke to my heart to pick things up at Christ Church. I didn’t feel qualified but I did feel called and we began holding annual services and events right here. We have been doing it for years.
Our MLK Service has been graced over the years with Bishops, Scholars, Educators and Judges. We have been blessed by incredible music, poetry and prose. You see, MLK Day is not a Black Holiday, it is an American Holiday! I rejoice in the vision and courage of Martin Luther King Jr. and the new America he helped to build and we continue to build. This was a dream of an America in keeping with what our forefathers found to be “self evident.” The simple notion at all men (and women) were created equal and deserve equal opportunity, protection, respect, access and yes, responsibility.
Such egalitarian notions are deeply rooted in the Christian tradition (and my beloved Methodist tradition) and that is why I feel Christ Church is a wonderful place to celebrate, remember, worship and be re-membered. I have long dreamed of a time when Sunday morning is not “the most segregated hour in America” and Christ Church 2015 is an example of that prophecy fulfilled. Gathering together on a special evening when we connect to those things most noble, most humane and most Christian is simply a marvelous idea. Was then. Is now. Will be tomorrow.
It is the kind of idea upon which great and lasting things are built.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.