Forty-six years after his death, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and peace will be celebrated again in multiple observances across the area.
Sunday, a collection of Pottstown and the surrounding area’s religious leaders will gather at The Hill School’s Center for the Arts to “remember the ‘life and work’ of Dr. King,” according to a press release signed by The Rev. Mary Etta Mest.
The event will begin at 4 p.m.
As always, the celebration will feature music, prayer and selected readings as well as speeches.
“Please mark your calendar and encourage members of your congregation/organization to attend as we desire to make this our largest-ever celebration given the fact that it (has been) only a few months since we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington,” the release said.
The Rev. Vernon Ross Jr., pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Pottstown and one of the event’s main organizers, said Melonie Hill will also perform at the celebration.
Hill has performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center, and at the 97th annual NAACP convention, among other notable places, Ross said.
Proceeds raised from the event will go toward Pottstown School District’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program.
Thirteen different churches or ministries are expected to participate Sunday.
Anyone interested in being listed as a participating supporter may contact Ross at Vernon.Ross@LMCO.com or 610-805-9084.
“Participating supporters are those who understand and resonate with the life and work of Dr. King,” Ross said. “He was a drum major for justice and equality and I believe those who support and attend this celebration are advocates of justice and equality.”
For Martin Luther King Jr. Day itself on Monday, Second Baptist Church at 507 N. Adams St. will hold its annual service. The Pine Forge Choir will perform at the service, which begins at 10 a.m. and will feature the Rev. Jonas Alexandre, Second Baptist associate minister, as a guest speaker.
It is hosted by The Rev. Roland H. Anderson II, pastor of Second Baptist, and lunch is scheduled to be served.
Later that night, the Pine Forge Choir will perform again at the Boyertown Area Martin Luther King Jr. Service.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the service at New Hanover United Methodist Church at 2211 Swamp Pike in Gilbertsville will feature that choir along with the Boyertown Area Senior High School Show Choir.
Created in 1999, “in response to the KKK demonstrating on the main intersection in Boyertown,” the event’s theme is “Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, Fighting for the Same Dream on Two Different Continents.”
The traditional drama acted out by Pine Forge and Boyertown area students will “focus on the many parallels between King and (Nelson) Mandela and the battles they fought for racial equality in the U.S.A. and South Africa,” a release on the event said.
A reception will follow the service, which will close with a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”
Throughout the weekend, In Ian’s Boots, a local charity providing shoes and winter boots to those in need, is asking for help “stock(ing) and fill(ing) orders.”
Those interested can take part in a “weekend of service” honoring King by helping Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. or Monday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the “Pottstown ‘Shoebox’” at 398 Circle of Progress.
Email Ron at Ron@InIansBoots.org or call at 610-970-8820 with your intention. Last minute walk-ups are also welcome.
Additionally, employees from The Vanguard Group will continue volunteering efforts they’d undertaken on Martin Luther King Day in the past by taking on “small painting projects” at Pottstown middle and high schools, according to district spokesman John Armato.
Roughly two dozen are expected to volunteer.
Perkiomen Valley School District students will also take Monday to volunteer in several different causes such as cleaning fire equipment, cleaning various facilities and helping out at a senior living center.
“Not long after we began publicizing the opportunities that would be available, our students began signing up right away to participate,” said Jessica Lester, the district’s manager for school and community engagement. “We are thrilled with the response and are looking forward to honoring Dr. King’s memory through service to our community.”