In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., several Grand Rapids, Mich., area churches gathered on January 18 to celebrate achievements in the civil rights movement and press on toward racial reconciliation.
This is the second year the ecumenical service was held at Millbrook Christian Reformed Church with participation from many local pastors and denominational leaders.
Over 100 people attended the service. Millbrook pastor Will Hensen was very pleased with this turnout. “We doubled the size of attendance even with the treacherous weather and sub-zero windchill,” he said.
Hensen said Millbrook is the perfect location for the service. “Our church is led by Christ to gather a diverse community unified by grace, love, and hope,” he said. “How can we use this day as a platform to reach out to our community and other churches?”
Rev. Emmett Harrison of Oakdale Park CRC hoped that this event could reach all demographics. “We wanted it to be a worship experience with a focus on the message that was both inspirational and also a call to further action in the civil rights movement,” Harrison said.
The gospel message was brought by pastor Mika Edmondson of New Fellowship Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The service also included a mass gospel choir with members of several churches across west Michigan. Students from New Branches Charter Academy, a public grade school located across the street from Millbrook, led a responsive reading.
Millbrook is heavily invested in the kids at New Branches. The students in the school come from very diverse backgrounds; a majority of the children live below the poverty line. During the service, an offering was taken for a new summer ministry at Millbrook to reach out to students who are at risk academically.
“It’s a program that will help students to improve educational foundations, making their futures brighter,” said Harrison of the Millbrook program. “That is something Dr. King was very keen on.”