Press Release: Leaders Honored for Defending Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream

Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., The King Family Legacy Foundation and The Reconciled Church Initiative honor spiritual leaders in racial healing and reconciliation. Christian leaders repent for racial discrimination, conduct foot washing and recognize “Defenders of MLK’s Dream” at United Cry DC16.

In a time when racial issues lead many newscasts, on April 9, 2016, an important benchmark in racial healing occurred at same location where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Thousands of pastors and Christian leaders gathered at the Lincoln Monument during United Cry DC16 to pray for America’s healing and honor nine spiritual leaders who are “Defenders of the Dream” birthed by Dr. King. The King Family Legacy Foundation and Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., of The Reconciled Church Initiative, co-sponsored the ceremonies which honored leaders who exemplify racial healing and reconciliation.

“During the last two years we have seen violence and racial intolerance erupt in unexpected places. America seems to be facing the deepest divisions of this century. Our nation’s only hope is for Christians to unify in Christ and become bridges to peace,” says Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. “We are reminding people of Dr. Martin Luther King’s true dream which inspired hope and courage while exhorting all men to stand on the true rock of brotherhood.”

Remembering Dr. King’s True Dream
The reconciliation segment of the day began with Jackson’s speech explaining that Dr. King’s dream was rooted in the belief that America would rise up and live out the creed: “all men are created equal.” Jackson contends that the complete vision articulated by Dr. King has not been fully embraced. “This movement which began with justice (equality, opportunity, and jobs) was to emphasize Christian love and biblical righteousness, which might be defined as national spiritual revival,” Jackson explained. “The success of Dr. King’s dream must be strategically based upon the linking of three areas, community mobilization, political influence and spiritual values. Unfortunately, too many have focused on the political action or community organization without challenging Christians to live out biblical principles of love and mercy.”

Foot washing of the Kings
To express remorse for “forsaking the dream” and recognize of the sacrifices carried by King’s Family and other racial leaders, a prayer of repentance/forgiveness and ceremonial foot washing was conducted. Foot washing is symbolic of love, humility and commitment to servant leadership, and was demonstrated by Jesus Christ the night before his death.

The moving ceremony included members of King Family, daughter Rev. Bernice King and niece Dr. Alveda King; Bill Haley the grandson of Alex Haley (historical author of Roots); and Lynn Jackson, the great granddaughter of Dred Scott. Four white pastors prayed and washed their feet, including Rev. Mike Berry of Annapolis and Bobby Schuller (grandson of the late Robert Schuller).

During the Civil Rights Movement, three immediate family members were assassinated including Martin Luther King Jr., his younger brother A.D. King and their mother, Alberta Christine Williams King. “All of us recognize the magnitude of Dr. Martin Luther King’s enormous impact upon our nation. Unfortunately, before April 9, 2016, very few of us realized the magnitude of the sacrifice that his family, friends, and closest supporters paid,” Jackson stated.

Highlighting Defenders of the Dream
The racial reconciliation segment of United Cry DC16 concluded with the conferring of the first “Defenders of the Dream” award in recognition of the important work being done by Christian leaders and ministries. The Reconciled Church Initiative and The King Legacy Family Foundation created this honor to focus national attention on those who are building bridges to peace in America.

“These courageous leaders have taken action to be peacemakers and healers within their constituencies. They are leading many of the most influential churches, denominations, or spiritual movements of our generation. Our nation must follow their collective lead and amazing examples,” Jackson said.

“In this Jubilee year, we are seeing a new emergence of servant leaders and racial reconcilers. From across the denominations, God’s champions are uniting and raising a new standard in our neighborhoods,” states Dr. Alveda King.

The honorees included Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop Church of God in Christ; Dr. Creflo Dollar, Founder, World Changers Church International, College Park, GA; Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President, Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Jentezen Franklin, Senior Pastor, Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA; Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego, CA; Pastor John Jenkins, First Baptist Church, Glenarden, MD; Dr. Sammy Rodriguez, President National Hispanic Christian Leadership; Dr. Darryl Winston, Greater Works Ministry, Marietta, GA; Rev. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (represented by Dr. James Bradford, General Secretary AOG).

A special “Prayer Stole” or mantle was created for the event. Recipients of the “Defender of the Dream” were exhorted to stay true to Dr. King’s dream of spiritual and political renewal for communities, continue to expand the work of racial healing through multi-cultural collaboration and pass the mantle to the next generation. “We, the church, are better together! And through our unified engagement our nation will have enough ‘spiritual salt’ to preserve it,” stated Jackson. “Our nation has never been perfect, but it can get dramatically better as the Defenders of the Dream take their rightful place in their local communities and world! Jesus, the Prince of Peace, can heal the church and empower us to create a nation with the world’s greatest atmosphere of righteousness and justice.”

Read more at Leaders Honored for Defending Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream.