Local churches recall MLK holiday

While students have the day off from school, the Post Office is closed nationwide and many city and government offices are closed, our nation celebrates the birth of a man who led the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, is recognized in all parts of our culture, and over the weekend many local parishes decided to incorporate his memory into their services.

St. Joseph Catholic Church’s Rev. Pat Sloneker said Friday that during a portion of Sunday’s Eucharistic Liturgy there will praying for MLK Jr.

“The Prayer of the Faithful, a standard part of our mass, there will definitely be a petition that will relate to celebrating Martin Luther King Day and the realities of racism and prejudice,” Sloneker said.

Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Ray Long, had not yet started his sermon when we first reached out to him, but before he came to Wapakoneta, Long said he strongly referenced MLK Jr. near this holiday.
Long was the pastor of an inner-city church in Cleveland, and he knew how important MLK Jr. was to the parish’s culture.

“We did quite a bit,” Long said. “One of our young men, he read from various snippets of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, and then I would read where that came from in scripture. I would parallel the scripture to what Martin Luther King was saying.”

Sloneker had not yet written his homily either, but was assured there would be reference during his mass at St. Lawrence Immaculate Conception in Botkins and Rhine, which is part of the Petersburg Pastoral Region with St. Joseph.

“As far as preaching, undoubtedly, the scriptures this Sunday can relate to the reality of racism and prejudices in some ways,” Sloneker said. “The other appropriate place for something like that will be during the homily, and I feel confident that I’ll be mentioning that for sure.”

Long said he was born in 1961 and remembers many of the things that happened during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I still remember, as a child, police dogs being sicked on African Americans when they were peacefully trying to march,” Long said. “I didn’t quite understand exactly what was going on.”