There were many national and local activities to honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 17. On the eve of King’s anniversary, the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant awarded $5,000 grants to several community organizations.
In recognition of the church’s unwavering community support, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz presented a citation to the church’s Christ Fund, which is used for such purposes. Under the leadership of the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson, grants were awarded to the Brooklyn Arts Council; Dr. Adelaide Sanford Institute; NIA Community Service Network; Reel Teen Film Making; Youth Justice Board Center for Court Innovations; and Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy. Dr. Lester Young accepted the grant for the Dr. Adelaide Sanford Institute.
The church’s unselfish acts of giving have resulted in over $1 million being distributed over the years to organizations with proven track records of service to communities.
The social conditions of today, coupled with a lack of knowledge of historical events, have created a noticeable void in the minds and souls of many. After listening to news broadcasts or flipping through the pages of newspapers, one can argue that King’s legacy has been trivialized and reduced to sales pitches and insignificant formalities, where politicians parade and peddle their wares using highlights and sound bites from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. However, the antithesis of this norm was evident at the Concord Baptist Church.
Simpson’s message was grounded in the text “Do not repay anyone back evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.” He asked congregants not to minimize those who fought for our freedom and challenged them to listen to all of King’s speeches and hear how he poured out his soul and spoke against the war in Vietnam and the evils of Jim Crow. Simpson also cautioned against being consumed with getting “even” and not finding a way to live with dignity.
The memory of King was honored through “A Nobler Call,” a sermon that revisited a time and place in history when the Black church was more than an edifice, when the church was the center of the Black community’s existence and a sustaining force in the struggle for the elusive “liberty and justice for all.”