An Oak Harbor church is planning another yearly event of praise, worship and remembrance of the civil rights movement.
The Mission Ministry Faith Center will host a celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 16.
The event will be a lively program of worship, singing and dancing. Faith center Pastor Fannie Dean said she has been putting on the annual commemoration since the 1970s.
Program participant Starcia Cousar called Dean a pillar of the Oak Harbor community and praised the event’s long-standing continuity.
“I love that it’s still going on, because I think after time passes, people get so comfortable and used to it and forget certain things,” Cousar said. “We think Martin Luther King, we think Black and white, desegregation, but it goes beyond the spec of that. It’s nationwide. It’s worldwide.”
For members of the congregation, the holiday holds personal significance.
“I remember it because I was in my teenage years when all of it was going on, and it just brought a whole new meaning of greatness,” said church member Gwen Oest. “All of a sudden, I feel important, and what I do feels good.”
Besides musical performance, Dean said the program will also feature children telling the story of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.
Mae’les, Izie and Charles Boyles, some of the children in the congregation, shared what the holiday means to them.
“It’s kind of cool how he was able to fight for freedom and save civil rights and help Black people, and why they shouldn’t go silent,” said Mae’les, age 9.
“I think he was a good influence to the world and he inspired everyone,” added Izie, 8.
“I think that Martin Luther King was smart for what he did, because marching for equal rights is a good thing because everyone needs to be treated fairly,” said 11-year-old Charles.
For Dean, King’s work retains its relevance as the cause of racial justice continues across the country.
“It’s so important that we don’t go back, that we continue to break the chains that try to form up again, that we keep the unity and faith, that we go on,” she said. “We can’t go back. We’ve come too far. We’ve come too far by faith to go back.”
Dean and other church members identified faith as a vital element of the holiday, the celebration program and the causes of justice and peace. Dean said the congregation is holding its celebration on Sunday, the day before the federal holiday, because King was a man who loved the Lord.
“Jesus gave Martin Luther King the dream,” said program participant Arianna Burnett. “Had it not been for Jesus planting that dream, he wouldn’t be able to minister to thousands of millions of people.”
The Mission Ministry Faith Center is located at 1751 Goldie Rd. in Oak Harbor. Masks are required for all who attend the program and must be left on while singing.
“I’m so excited about this program because I think it’s an opportunity for our community to come together,” choir member Brittany Rowan said. “I sing at a different church, but I am so excited that here I get to come and sing with different people in the community, and we’re all celebrating the same thing. It’s just such an honor to get to be here, and that Pastor Fannie is opening up her church to us to come and celebrate with her.”