Mansfield Living

MLK event promotes community unity

Praise dancers perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
Praise dancers perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Bethlehem Baptist Church. File photo

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is particularly important today, said Bethlehem Baptist Pastor Michael Evans.

“When the community stands together, we are able to do right by everybody,” Evans said.

Bethlehem Baptist Church will hold its 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Sunday, marking what would have been the slain civil rights leader’s 88th birthday. King, a Baptist minister who promoted non-violent methods in the 1950s and ‘60s to end segregation, was assassinated April 4, 1968.

This year’s event theme, United We Stand: A Time and Place to Unite, reflects King’s message and what is going on in the country, said Victoria Dodd, who organizes the celebration.

“We need to continue to work on diversity and unity in our community,” Dodd said. “It’s important that we start locally and spread. You have to take care of home first. It’s important that we come together to celebrate our differences.”

Gage Yeager, executive director of Trinity Habitat for Humanity, will be the keynote speaker. Habitat for Humanity is currently working on its 13th home in Mansfield.

“Affordable housing is not an issue of color, but rights,” Evans said. “Gage is a person who can highlight that.”

Bethlehem’s choir and praise dancers will perform, as will bagpiper Stephen Pruitt. The Summit High School JROTC will present the colors.

Dodd expects 300 to 400 people to attend the free event, which is open to the public.

“The highlight is to unify people for the common cause of justice and equal rights for all people,” Evans said. “This program shines a light on those needs and makes us better as a collective.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

5 p.m. Sunday

Bethlehem Baptist Church

1188 W. Broad St.

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