UPDATED – Basilica prayer service for 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination rescheduled

| May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

NOTICE: The ecumenical prayer service, “The Dream Continues,” at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis April 3 has been rescheduled to May 11.

Father Erich Rutten sees clear evidence of a lingering problem on Sunday mornings.

“There’s a saying that Sunday mornings are the most segregated time in the United States,” said Father Rutten, parochial administrator of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul. “It’s probably true in a lot of places, particularly in the United States, and the reason, of course, is because we go to our own churches. There are black churches and there are white churches.”

Father Rutten will join leaders from historically black Christian denominations 7 p.m. April 3 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to pray for an end to racism. The ecumenical prayer service, “The Dream Continues,” marks the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon, which King delivered the night before his April 4, 1968, assassination.

St. Peter Claver was founded to serve black Catholics in St. Paul.

“It’s a chance to mark that occasion and call attention to the fact that we still have a long way to go,” Father Rutten said. “There are many people that feel that we’re still really struggling very deeply with the question of race in America and that there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.”

Plans for the service began in August 2017 when black Minnesota Christian leaders held a listening session to address racism in the wake of a white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted into violence, during which a man drove into a crowd, killing a black woman. Black Minnesota Christian leaders reached out to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Minnesota Council of Churches and Transform Minnesota in the process.

“If Christians can’t overcome the sin of racism among us, who can?” Father Rutten asked.

Black Christian leaders expected to lead the prayer service at the Basilica include Bishop Richard Howell Jr. of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Rev. Billy Russell of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention, Elder Stacey Smith of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Bishop Fred Washington of the Church of God in Christ.

The prayer service will include video of King’s “Mountaintop” sermon, additional sermons by Christian leaders, greetings from Twin Cities leaders and worship music by the Minnesota State Baptist Choir. Father Rutten, who will offer the closing prayer, said it will resemble a “worship service in the African-American tradition.”

He also said the service at the Basilica is a “golden opportunity to for us to come together and pray for justice and peace in our world.”

A few other cities will have similar prayer services, including Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and Memphis, where King was shot.

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