This is an open question to local churches everywhere, specifically predominantly-white congregations: Where were the MLK Day celebrations?
Firsthand, I heard of none*. A news search led me to the celebration of Willow Creek Community Church and Salem Baptist Church. The largely white Willow Creek and the largely black Salem Baptist joined together to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to promote unity.
This seems like a wonderful day to move towards breaking the “white church/black church” stereotype, and I’m not quite sure why more historically-white churches didn’t follow suit with Willow Creek.
It provides great occasion to ask ourselves, what message are we sending to others not like ourselves?
The hardest place to market is people unlike you. But people unlike you need Christ just as much as you do. It’s a fundamental problem in marketing, “How do I reach people unlike myself?”
What a wonderful opportunity to transcend race. Dr. King was not only a symbol of civil rights, but a symbol of freedom. He died for the freedom of those to follow him. It’s an incredible example for us all—red, yellow, black and white—to follow. White congregations, however, seem to shy away from celebrating Dr. King, for whatever reason. I’m not here to speculate on those reasons or psychoanalyze anyone, but I am here to propose something. Take this great occasion to reach out to your community, and seize every opportunity to cross the gap of marketing to people unlike you.
Here’s a quote from the article regarding Willow and Salem that sums things up far better than I could:
“It starts with small relationships. It starts with being able to talk to the guy who works in the cubicle next to you and doesn’t look like you or maybe has an accent,” Kevin Belton, 43, said after the service at Willow Creek. “You realize you have more similarities than differences.”
*I do live in an area still permeated by racial tension and feelings of supremacy (although most would deny it). So maybe in other places, lots of these services went on. A cursory news search doesn’t reveal too many demographically “white churches” celebrating a historically “black holiday.” I use quotations because neither one of these terms is a reality. Neither churches nor holidays have races.