The 23rd Annual Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast is at 8 a.m. Jan. 18 at the Crown Expo Center.  Rev. Brian Thompson, pastor of Simon Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, is the guest speaker.  

The event, hosted by the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Ministerial Council, Inc., will also honor all first responders. Admission is $20 in advance or $23 at the door.  Tickets are available at the Crown Box Office or by contacting the FCCMC. 

Rev. Mary C. Owens, the president of the FCCMC, said special recognition will be given to members of the police departments, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, EMS workers and members of the military.

“The reason we chose to honor them is because, with all the things going on in our nation and the world now, when something happens, they’re the ones there first, putting their lives on the line for our communities,” Owens said.

That idea of community is an integral theme of the event, Owens said, as is educating current and future generations. Owens said the event not only pays tribute to the memory and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also reminds attendees to continue to contribute to their own community, an idea espoused by Dr. King during his lifetime.

“Many young people are so removed from King’s life experience,” Owens said.  “Our goal is for young people to know ‘the dream’ and what Dr. King meant by ‘becoming the beloved community.’”

“All of us in our little individual parts make up this whole community… despite our differences, when it comes down to the end of the day, we all have to live and work together,” Owens said.

Coming together in love and a spirit of peace can transcend race, gender, socio-economic status and political affiliation, Owens believes.

Evidenced in his speeches and writings, King’s view of the “beloved community” highlighted his assumption that human existence is social in nature.  According to The King Center, the core value of the quest of King’s ‘beloved community’ was agape love — understanding, redeeming goodwill for all, love seeking to preserve and create community.

 “The solidarity of the human family” was a phrase King used frequently. Owens said the FCCMC adheres to a similar mantra. “The belief that family is central to society,” she said.  “We rally and pray, to fight for the family.”

The FCCMC, a non-profit, has programs to assist the homeless, provide training to ministry personnel, provides some monetary support to other local charities and awards scholarships to high school seniors.

The annual MLK breakfast is the FCCMC’s biggest fundraiser. It funds the annual scholarship program. For the past eight to nine years, Owens said, the FCCMC has been able to award $10,000 annually to graduating seniors in a May scholarship banquet. Each winning student receives $1,000 that can be used for college expenses. Applications for the scholarship become available at the MLK Breakfast.

“What greater thing can you do than give back to the children?” asked Owens.

Involving the next generation in the MLK Breakfast itself is important, she said.

“We always try to include young people in it,” Owens said.  “Some are involved in greeting and presentations. We will recognize winners of the MLK art contest during the breakfast.” The winner of the poetry and spoken word contest will also present at the breakfast. For those not able to attend the Monday Breakfast, Owens said the public is also invited to attend the 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Worship Service on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.  The keynote speaker is Rev. Joe Leggett from Falcon Children’s Home. The worship service is at the Second Missionary Baptist Church. No tickets are needed to attend the worship service, but any donations made during the offeratory will benefit FCCMC programs.  

To learn more about the FCCMC missions and activities, visit or call 910-670-5662. The Worship Service will be held at Second Missionary Baptist Church, located at 522 Old Wilmington Road, 910-483-5925.

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