By Thomas Sellers Jr.
St. Mark Baptist Church located at 3220 Wilkinsville Road in Drummonds has become the unofficial home of Tipton County’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance.
On Jan. 21, the church welcomed the public and distinguished guests to the 12th Annual Dr. MLK Community Celebration hosted by Pastor E. Allen Redwell Jr. This year’s program honored Dr. LaSimba M. Gray Jr. and Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. The guest speaker for the day was Pastor Ashton Alexander of Pilgram Rest Baptist Church in Memphis.
“We, the congregants and friends of the St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, join our hands and hearts with the residents of Tipton County, Tenn., Shelby County and other surrounding areas,” Redwell said. “Along with the hands of our fellow citizens of this great nation and world in celebrating the life of such a heroic ambassador of God.”
Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis back on April 4, 1968 after coming to support striking sanitation workers. King was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.
St. Mark’s 2019 tribute began with a song of praise form the St. Mark United Voices Choir. St. Mark’s Associate Minister Bobby Fields Sr. delivered the invocation. Then excerpts of King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” was recited by Pastor Darell L. Harrington of New Sardis Baptist Church in Memphis.
Before honoring the 2019 Dr. MLK Community Service Awards, the Syncopated Saints performed a tribute dance.
First to be recognized on the day was Sheriff Bonner. The first elected African-American sheriff of Shelby County reflected on his journey from Hillcrest High School to the office. With his wife Audrey by his side, Bonner accepted his award.
Next up to be honored was Gray. The former pastor of St. Mark was back home with his family and friends to receive his award.
After Alexander delivered the speech and the Word, all in attendance song Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” for Dr. King.