What would have been the ninth annual O’Fallon Metro-East Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at New Life In Christ Interdenominational Church has been canceled this year due to church construction. However, the church plans to bring the event back for the 2019 holiday.
Over the years, hundreds of attendees, including local dignitaries and community leaders, have attended on MLK Day event, but Bishop Geoffrey V. Dudley Sr., pastor of New Life Church, said the building is “just physically challenged” with the construction this year.
“We are now having worship in the space where we normally hold the breakfast, and to turn that around in less than a day is impractical,” he said.
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However, Dudley said a substitute worship service will instead be held Sunday, Jan. 14 at the church, located at 689 Scott-Troy Road in O’Fallon. Worship will begin at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow.
“We are still holding a MLK worship service for the whole community on Sunday before the holiday,” Dudley said.
Along with celebrating the life and message of MLK, Dudley also plans to address today’s current climate of racial unity in America, or lack there of.
“In this time in our country, we seem to be splitting at the seams, and we need a message of togetherness and unity,” Dudley said. “We have become increasingly tribal in our approaches to solving our united problems. And so, I will be addressing that, and I think that that is critical for this time that we’re in — that we come together, not separate.”
Pam Funk, O’Fallon assistant city administrator said that while the event is on hold this year, the city “looks forward to the event next year.”
“(Martin Luther King Jr. Day) is a time to reflect on the past, how far we’ve come as a country, and look to the future and all it has to offer,” Funk said.
It’s been five years since the church broke ground on its approximate $4.2 million sanctuary expansion project, which has remained under construction, but has a tentative completion expected for February.
“It has been a journey of stick-to-itiveness and God’s faithfulness,” Dudley said.
The new sanctuary will seat about 1,000 individuals comfortably in theater-style chairs, Dudley said.
“The sanctuary is going to be state-of-the-art technological marvel. It will be unlike any other on this side of the river, and I dare say, there are only a couple of other sanctuaries that will be similar in the way that it is,” he said.
The wall behind the pulpit will have a 30-by-14-foot video LED screens that Dudley said he will be able to control from his cell phone, along with lighting, sound and live streaming during his sermons.
“All of your senses will be tapped into when you step into this sanctuary. So I will be able to minister, as well as, engage people with streaming live and Facebook live and all of the people in the congregation at the same time. It’s a marvel,” Dudley said.