Five Charlotte ministers are sponsoring a citywide worship service Sunday honoring Martin Luther King Jr, an effort to shift some of the holiday focus to King’s strong spiritual beliefs and concern for the poor.

“We looked at the fact that he was a Christian, a preacher and a black pastor,” said the Rev. Robert McGowens, pastor of Greater Galilee Baptist, where the service will be held. “Everything that we saw going on in the (Charlotte) community was sort of a social affair, but nothing that really focused on who he was.”

One of King’s greatest concerns shortly before his assassination was the status of poor people. In honor of that fact, the ministers will donate money raised at the service to organizations serving homeless children, McGowens said.

The service also will celebrate the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president. McGowens said Obama’s election represents another step in King’s “dream coming to fruition.”

The five ministers are: the Rev. Leonzo Lynch of Ebeneezer Baptist, McGowens of Greater Galilee, the Rev. Gregory Moss of St. Paul Baptist, the Rev. Peter Wherry of Mayfield Memorial Baptist and the Rev. Ricky Woods of First Baptist-West.

Moss, who also is president of the N.C. General Baptist State Convention and an officer in the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, will be guest speaker.

While King is lauded for his civil rights achievements, his writings attest to a deep spiritual belief that propelled his actions. They also point to his support among black churches. King spent his final years opposing the Vietnam war and launching a Poor People’s Campaign.

McGowens said the pastors hope to make the service an annual event that would rotate to different churches and attract other congregations. The event already has received donations from other churches and businesses, he added.

When: Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009
Time: 6 p.m. youth hour, 7 p.m. worship service
Where: Greater Galilee Baptist Church, 501 W. Park Avenue, Charlotte


Go Tell It On The Mountain Discussion, Saturday, Jan. 17, 4 p.m.
The Afro-American Cultural Center partners with the Charlotte Symphony for discussion of different styles of gospel music and the role of the church in the Civil Rights Movement. Little Rock AME Zion Church, 401 N. McDowell Street.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade, Saturday, Jan. 17, 11:00 a.m.
Beginning at N.Tryon & Nineth streets and ending at Marshall Park, this parade will feature local and regional high school and university marching bands, steppers, social and community service organizations as well as political, religious and community leaders. Call 704-336-5271.

We Shall Overcome, Sunday, Jan. 18, 3 p.m.
Storyteller and musician Kali Ferguson explores the role of protest music in the Civil Rights era while Charlotte Symphony musicians perform “classical” music that protests injustice and human bondage. Also includes panel discussion with civil rights attorney James Ferguson and historian Tom Hanchett. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, Monday, Jan. 19, 6:45 a.m.
The H.L. McCrorey Family YMCA presents its 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Westin Charlotte, 601 S. College St. Money raised from the event will support the YMCA’s community outreach campaign. Tickets are $35.00 and sponsorships are available. Call 704-716-6500.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Celebration, Monday, Jan. 19, 11:00 a.m.
Held at Charlotte Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theater, this event will feature music and drama. Winners of the CMS Arts and Writing Contest will be recognized and awarded scholarships.

Daybreak of Freedom Concert, Monday, Jan. 19, 7:00 p.m.
With Chelsea Tipton II and Andre Thomas conducting, this Charlotte Symphony concert will feature a combined Historically Black Colleges & Universities Student Chorus. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Belk Center. Call 704-972-2000 for free tickets.

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