DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -A group of local churches is preparing to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a two-day celebration in Duncan.
Monday, Jan. 18, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the schedule of events kicks off on Sunday at the Palace Theatre on Main Street. Activities include a worship service, a march and live music from a Grammy-nominated singer.
While race relations are better today than they've been in the past, two pastors involved in the celebration say they hope this event will help unify their community.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lost his life fighting for his dream of equality for all. Forty-eight years later, a group of area pastors have joined together to try and uphold that dream for the future.
"I believe he has inspired us as ministers of the gospel to stand up regardless of what goes on. That's in danger, or out of danger, it doesn't matter, you just be on the protocol to do what you need to do for the lord," said Pastor Melvin Sanders of Zoe Christian Center in Duncan.
Pastor Sanders isn't the only area pastor who is inspired by how Dr. King was able to unify the nation during his life. Pastor Russ Stewart of Stephens County Worship Center has a personal connection to the annual celebration. He and his wife are in a bi-racial marriage.
"My wife and I really are advocates of incorporating the races in every aspect of what we do here in Stephens County and getting people involved," Pastor Stewart said.
The goal is dear to Pastor Stewart's heart because he and his wife have built the church ministry around that theme.
"Our church was specifically designed as a multicultural, multiracial church, because we want everyone to be welcomed and apart of the family of God," Pastor Stewart said.
By putting on the event, pastors Stewart and Sanders say they hope to bridge the gap between any inequalities in their towns.
"Unity in the community is our goal. To create an atmosphere of unity in the city of Duncan and Stephens County and by doing so it will just promote unity throughout the rest of the state and the rest of the nation," Pastor Stewart said.
Pastor Stewart says after last year's events, he saw a greater comradery between the different ethnicities in Duncan, which is why he says he believes it can be done again this year.
This is the first year the gospel concert has been a part of the celebration. The performer is Helen Baylor, a four-time Grammy nominee and a two-time Dove Award winner.
Pastor Stewart says he is excited to be able to bring such a talent to Duncan.
If you want to attend the concert Sunday evening, you can contact Rudy or Shannon Sanders at 405-990-2786 or 405-201-5592. You can also swing by the Palace Theatre's box office. Tickets are $10 each.
After the concert Sunday evening, there will be a worship service Monday morning followed by a march down Main Street and a free showing of Woodlawn. The theater holds 348 people and the movie it first come, first served.