Black church, white church join together to celebrate MLK

Published: Monday, Jan. 16 2012 11:02 a.m. MST

Members of the New Pilgrim Baptist Church and the Canyons Church gather together Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012 for the 13th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the New Pilgrim church in Kearns.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

KEARNS — Two southern Baptist churches — one mostly black, the other mostly white — came together Sunday to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and praise God.

"We share our culture with them. They share their culture with us. As a result, we are better people," said Pastor Corey J. Hodges of the New Pilgrim Baptist Church.

New Pilgrim, a racially and culturally diverse congregation in Kearns, and the Canyons Church, a predominantly white Baptist congregation on Salt Lake's southeast bench, have held the special service since 1999. This year, New Pilgrim hosted the event in the new church it opened last summer.

"It's fun to share the differences in music, the differences in worship expression," Hodges said.

Canyons Pastor John Prim's sermon centered on showing one's "true color of righteousness."

"Children are color blind. They don't get all uptight about race. They just love to be together," he said. "Kids got it right. They know what we really are. We're human beings."

Prim, who is half Native American, said adults tend to forget that.

"They got color stuck in their eyes. They got riches stuck in their eyes. They got position stuck in their eyes," he said.

Frances Battle, who attends New Pilgrim, touched on King's "I Have a Dream" speech in her remarks to the crowd. Battle noted that the civil rights leader would have been 83 Sunday. "But due to hatred, he only lived to be 39."

People have overcome many obstacles since King made that speech in 1963, but some barriers still remain, she said.

"Dr. King wanted us to reach up, reach in, reach down, reach out and connect to others," she said. "My question to you is, 'Are you reaching out and helping others to find that dream?"

Dave and Kris Oldroyd brought their mixed-race family to the service for the first time. They attend neither church but wanted their four adopted African-American children to experience some of their heritage and culture. Their two biological children are 18 and 15, while their four adopted children range from 12 to 4.

Said Dave Oldroyd, who is Mormon, "Without people like Martin Luther King, our family couldn't exist."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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