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Black Church Leaders Celebrate Dr. King, Consider The Work That Remains

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Throughout North Texas and the nation Monday, many are celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

"I think there's a struggle trying to understand, 'where do we go from here'," says Pastor Richie Butler, St. Paul UMC and a member of the African American Pastors' Coalition, "but, I think someone like Dr. King would help us to recognize it, and figure out how to work together to keep the United States, united."

Dr. King is considered the father of the civil rights movement -- a movement birthed in the black church. So it was at Friendship West that the African American Pastors Coalition gathered for an annual celebration that reflects on Dr. King's legacy, while also focusing on the work that's still to be done.

"Dr. King helped create a great vision, a great legacy," says Pastor Bryan Carter, Sr. Pastor Concord Church and President of the African American Pastors Coalition. "But, that work continues among all of the churches in the faith community." He says the church that launched the civil rights movement is still relevant in the fight for justice today.

"The church, when it's at its best, is responding to the needs, to the pains, and the difficulties of our society-- and stepping in, in those space to provide hope, to provide help to provide advocacy to provide hands," says Pastor Carter. "When the church is at its best, it's doing the work that God has called us to do in changing and transforming communities."

Yes, parades have their place. But, the pastor's coalition event recognizes the year-round work required to move the needle on social justice: the group, among other things, hosts voter registration drives, small business expos, and builds relationships with local law enforcement.

"There are some systems that need to be shaken, and so that makes us uncomfortable," says Pastor Richie Butler, St. Paul UMC, "but, I think we definitely need to continue to agitate and push forward to the justice and the equality that Dr. king stood and lived for."

Coalition supporters also stress that their mission, must be shared. Jeff Warren is the pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church. The white pastor says he is haunted by the words Dr. King penned in his 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'.

"In it he calls out white moderates," says Pastor Warren, "he said the problem is not the KKK or white citizens's white leaders who will not step into the fray," and then adding, "I don't want to be the white moderate that's not involved. I'm here because I believe in the dream. I'm grateful for white leaders who are stepping in, speaking in," says Pastor Warren. "But, we need more who will step into that space... not simply quote him once a year, post a picture, but, actually get involved and rally people, mobilize people to make a difference."

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