Historic Oregon Black church holds special service honoring MLK

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — People packed the historic Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church in Northeast Portland on Sunday afternoon for a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Faith leaders from across the city and elected officials came to pay their respects. Grace Rubenstein is from a different congregation and wanted to attend the service in celebration of Dr. King.

“I think we have to continue to remember that the fight is not over, he was one voice, but every single person is important,” Rubenstein said.

When guests walked into the church, they could see artwork celebrating Dr. King. The crowd inside the church was also diverse. Reverend Dr. J.W. Matt Hennessee said the diverse crowd would be something MLK would be proud to see today.

“Together we can make a stronger impact on the concerns of our community and the opportunity to find good solutions,” Hennessee said.

There are several events planned for the MLK holiday on Monday including a memorial walk in Vancouver and the 9th annual Reclaim MLK Event hosted by Don’t Shoot PDX in Portland.

Many will mark the holiday with a day of service including a SOLVE cleanup starting at Irving Park in Portland. Cynthia Monk will be joining in the day of service with her grandchildren.

“I’ll start off in the morning doing some work around our church, then in the afternoon, I’ll go with my grandchildren and I’m not sure what we are doing but it’s community service, so it’s probably cleaning or something,” Monk said.

Some of the topics the keynote speakers spoke about during the service included racism, homelessness and violence. Coming together to solve these issues was one of the main points of the service.

“If you look at the people who came here today, you can see people together, really together,” said Mike Fryer, whose son sang in the choir.

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