Thirty-two years of “Serving God and the Community”
Martin Luther King, Jr. Christian Church (MLK Church) was founded based on the needs of a small group of Christians living in Reston, VA who wanted a worship service for their children similar to what they had experienced while growing up, a worship experience that was meaningful and life transforming.
A great retelling of our history is heard at various yearly events in which one would hear the mentioning of “crabs from heaven”. On a Sunday evening in July 1981, the aforementioned Christians gathered at the home of Janice and Rodney Scott to have a crab feast, and from that feast, a very powerful prayer meeting began that led to the first discussions of a worship community.
On January 15, 1982, twelve Christians gathered at the home of Adelle and John Arthur Jones and decided to form a church, the name of the church was to be Martin Luther King, Jr. Church. This name was selected because it symbolizes the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and who like Jesus, also had compassion for the oppressed. The first worship service was held at the Southgate Community room in Reston, Virginia on Sunday, February 7, 1982.
The first Interim Minister was the Rev. Dr. Joseph Dancy, Jr. (January 1982-November, 1984). It was during his tenure that the word “Christian” was added to the church’s name; whereby we are now known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church. Rev. Dancy established a weekly study of God’s Holy Word, which has continued to this day and is held every Wednesday night. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he also initiated other ministries such as the tutoring program, enrichment trips for the Sunday school, food and clothing bank. Because of his visionary leadership we continue to work closely with agencies in Reston to assist the less fortunate as the Lord commissioned us to do over 19 years ago.
The second Minister that God sent our way was the Rev. Dr. Clinton D. McNair (November 4, 1984 – September 1998). It was under Rev. McNair’s thoughtful and meticulous leadership that the church developed a more formal organizational structure, which included five ministries that are currently being used to guide the church today. These ministries nurture our members, and extend our outreach to the community.
It was during Rev.McNair’s tenure that the members began working more fervently to live out the spirit of community involvement embodied in the writings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Working closely with the Reston Community Center, our church developed an extensive, interactive, community-wide program in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s national holiday celebration. Every year on the celebration of Martin Luther King Day, the MLK Church, volunteers from the community, businesses in the area and other church denominations assist in a day long tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. McNair was also instrumental in the purchase of 2.3 acres of land in 1987, which is located at 11400 North Shore Drive in Reston, Virginia and is currently the site of the church with plans to build a permanent structure there in the near future. Under Rev. McNair’s leadership, the King Church gained a greater involvement in the Reston Community, the Reston Association, Fairfax County Education Committees, Reston Interfaith Board, Northwest Mental Health Center and the Reston Shelter.
When Rev. McNair left in September of 1998, the church had the following interim ministers: Rev. Dr. Lillie Travis, Assistant Pastor, Rev. Patrick Wilson, and Rev. Lisa Mitchell, Associate Pastor. After a year in prayer, the Search Committee and the Church, agreed that Rev. Clarence W. Davis would be the Minister to lead the King Church. Rev. Davis came to us from Detroit, Michigan’s historic Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Pastor Davis brought a new fervor of leadership to the church and a desire to lead the body of believers to that higher calling of God.
During his tenure, Rev. Davis involved all members in every aspect of the church. New members, founding members, young and old alike were encouraged to stay busy working for the Master. Rev. Davis lifted up a simple yet inescapable mission for the church, all of its members and ministries. The mission is to press towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This calling is to lead the lost to the Savior and to strengthen the saints for the work of ministry. To that end, a number of ministry opportunities are abounding.
Pastor Davis developed a Bible Study schedule that was more accommodating to all with an early morning session, the regular Wednesday study and a Saturday morning session. He brought a new emphasis back to the “King Circle”, program led by our Deacons to nurture each member in the church as well as provide in-depth, yet informal Bible Study in the homes. Under the administration of Rev. Davis, an ALPHA program, which is a worldwide program of evangelism, come to MLK Church. The first ALPHA program was held for King Church on September 10, 2001.
Following the departure of Rev. Davis, we were served by Rev. Rose Robinson as an interim, She provided the steadfastness that held King Church in place until Rev. Dr. Jean Robinson-Casey was called to be the new pastor. Rev. Jean has served us for the past eight years and has come to us with a goal to not only lead us to our next physical worship structure, but to teach us how to love God more deeply and to love ourselves. Another valued and precious jewel that she has come to us with is the embracing of our fellow man through the acceptance of diversity. Her leadership is still evolving, but promises to be one that will take into decades to follow.
Our church is a church with a mission. We are determined to lead the lost to the Savior and to strengthen the saints for the work of ministry. We have outstretched arms to always welcome more to the vineyard.
Presently, we are developing plans to lay the foundation for our new, permanent home. The task is well underway with plan submissions. we are sure that God has not brought us this far to leave us now. For, it is our testimony that: we have come this far by faith…and we shall press on towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!