Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and people across the nation celebrated the life and achievements of one of recent history’s most prominent figures.

On Sunday, three Harker Heights churches celebrated King’s accomplishments one day early by inviting their congregations and area residents to gather at the Harker Heights Trinity Baptist Church for a screening of “Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism.” Trinity, Harker Heights United Methodist Church and Harker Heights Community Church co-sponsored the event.

Members of each of the churches were excited about the prospect of coming together for the joint event.

“I think it’s great whenever we can work with other denominations like this,” Trinity church member Cecelia Fruik said. “Neither my husband nor I were part of church that specifically celebrated MLK Day before this one, and I think this is a great idea.”

The pastor of Trinity Baptist Church said the idea to have a joint celebration came from casual conversation during another community-wide event the churches participate in.

“I mentioned the idea of coming together to watch this back during the annual Thanksgiving service, and we all thought it was a great idea,” said Trinity’s pastor, the Rev. David Morgan. “Every year, Community Church has a breakfast and discussion for church members on MLK Day, and so we are doing that (today) as well for all three churches.”

Morgan said this was the first year the churches had come together as a group for MLK Day, and the turnout for the event was impressive. More than 50 people arrived to watch the documentary.

The viewing was broken up into multiple sections, and at each intermission, the pastors invited attendees to share their thoughts on what they had seen so far.

“Coming together as different churches and congregations as a group is a lot of what Martin Luther King Jr. talked about,” said the Rev. Philemon Brown, pastor of Harker Heights Community Church. “This is all about fellowship and community, and this type of coming together is groundbreaking.”

Brown attended the event with his wife, Debra, who said she traditionally helps out during the annual breakfast their church has for MLK Day.

“I love the churches coming together like this,” Debra said. “I love being a part of this.”

The video itself offered a look at racism in the church throughout history, as pastors across the nation shared memories of how segregation shaped the world around them and the church at the time.

Event attendees said the turnout gave them hope that racism was ending and that progress was being made, even now.

“I think this is awesome, I believe once we put our heads together and start moving as one we will all start being better,” said Anthony Craig Jr., a deacon at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Killeen. “There are a whole lot of different ideas from different people here, and that is awesome.”

The event lasted from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday and resumed Monday morning with a breakfast at 10 a.m. After the breakfast, the discussion of racism and the church picked up with a focus on “Where Do We Go From Here?”

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