This year’s Chronicle Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast will take a sharp detour from past events. Chronicle Publisher Ernie Pitt says it’s a turn for the better.
“I’m excited about this year’s breakfast because I think it will be a little different from those in the past,” he said. “We have a lot to celebrate and have chosen to add more praise and prayer to the event.”
The event will still be held on the national MLK holiday – which is Jan. 21 this year – at the Benton Convention Center. The two and a half hour program – from 7-9:30 a.m. – will be jam-packed with song, praise and spirited affirmations. More than a dozen pastors and ministers will take part, as will city leaders like Mayor Allen Joines and Mayor Pro Tempore Dr. Vivian Burke. A highlight will be performances by gospel legend Luther Barnes, a Rocky Mount native whose talented father, Faircloth Barnes, wrote the classic “Rough Side of the Mountain.” The Grammy nominee and Stellar Award winning Luther Barnes has released more than two dozen CDs and has worked with the likes of Shirley Caesar and Kirk Franklin.
“Luther Barnes is world-renowned,” stated Pitt. “We also have some local down-home talent in the form of the Winston-Salem Community Prayer Band and the Union Baptist Church Praise Team and Fine Arts Ministry. All around, we have some exciting talent who will bring us the Gospel in song.”
While the music will be boisterous and soul-stirring, it will take a backseat to prayer. Some of the Triad’s best-known masters of The Word will share a makeshift pulpit. Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr., pastor of Union Baptist Church, pulled together this year’s vast pool of preaching talent.
“Dr. King has become the symbol for people all over the world to be persistent in eradicating war, poverty and racism, not to mention the other ‘isms’ that so keenly divide us today,” said Mack. “So for me, this is not just a holiday, but in some way this is a holy day; therefore, the challenge for us as a people is to keep the purpose in front of us.”
In addition to Mack, breakfast attendees will also hear from Mt. Calvary United Holy Church Pastor Tejado Hanchell and his wife, Elder Victoria Hanchell; Pastor Donald Jenkins, St. Paul United Methodist Church; Grace Presbyterian Church Pastor Touré Marshall and his wife, Rev. Eustacia Marshall; Rev. Peris Lester, St. John Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Dr. Hector Sintim, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church; Rev. Dan Musser, Southside Baptist Church; Rev. Patricia Bailey, Master’s Touch Ministries; Dr. James Woodson, St. James Home of Fresh Start Ministries of Greensboro; and Pastor George Banks, Goler Memorial AME Zion Church. District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield will also take part as she has done in years past. The young and talented Nicholas Brown will deliver King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech this year. A talented performer and orator, Nicholas has been featured in productions of the N.C. Black Repertory Company.
“The Prayer Breakfast this year is taking us back to old fashioned prayer, singing and spiritual impartation,” said Mack. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a product of the church, and we cannot negate the power that we draw from that sacred cosmos. It is our hope and desire that anyone who attends this Prayer Breakfast will be inspired to change the world. This is the kind of synthesis and revolutionary capacity that we can expect to experience on this day, and it’s not going to hurt that we will have some good food to go along with it.”
The breakfast is free and open to the public, but with reserved seating only.