Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope

I have attended and watched many MLK events over the years, yet to me, this event is special because of the breadth and depth of exploration. It not only explores the words of Dr. King but also the scripture connected to those powerful and often quoted words. In many ways it is a reunification of the scriptural aspect of social change which was the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement.” —Joi Freeman, Founder & CEO of Chicago’s Remnant Strategy

2020 was a year of reckoning, and although extremely hard, in God’s graciousness He brought much to light that needs to be made new. In that vein, the Grow Center for Church and Mission took the week of January 18th to take a deep dive into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the thread of scripture that runs through his words. 

For five days, Bible expositors from around the country gathered virtually each evening to look at sections of Dr. King’s historic speech and what those truths still mean today, in the context of a year fraught with pain, injustice, persecution and loss. 

More than 35 speakers, teachers, civil rights activists and witnesses joined the Grow Center and a host of other partners to educate, encourage and admonish listeners who tuned in from around the globe. 

Dr. Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia, kicked off the event Monday night with a powerful word and testimony of his own experience standing up to injustice.

“We have to courageously confront injustice,” said Dr. Loritts. “There comes a time when you just have to look sin in the eye and call it what it is. It needs to be called out, first of all, where it should never exist, and that is among God’s people.”

One attendee, Reverend Brian Alarid, who serves as the President of America Prays, shared that “it was a tremendous blessing to watch the Remembering Dr. King: Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope virtual event. I was especially moved by Dr. Crawford Loritts’s powerful message. He shared that one of the keys to being a righteous alternative to injustice is to ‘choose not to love from a distance, but love up-close and personally.’ You can make an impact on racial injustice right where you live by making a conscious decision to love people, especially those who don’t look like you and those who think and vote differently than you. Will you step up to the challenge and model Christ’s love?”

The remainder of the week featured Bible expositors Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, Rev. Dr. Naima Lett, Dr. Derwin L. Gray and Albert Tate. And those teachers were joined by the likes of NFL New Orleans Saints Quarterback and future Hall of Fame member Drew Brees, Sarah Collins Rudolph, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Major League Baseball manager David Roberts, United States Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas and many others.

Grammy winning Christian hip hop artist Lecrae, speaking about Dr. King’s “now is the time” refrain, said, “It is always time to fight against injustice. It is always time to wrestle for biblical unity. It is always time to see things from the perspective that God would have us see things from. And the brotherhood Dr. King talked about is something that is truly supernatural, that is truly something God has to implement, and if we as the body of Christ can’t demonstrate that in society and in culture, then who will?”

Posed within a national climate that has weathered a global pandemic, volatile elections and a reckoning of racial injustice, this timely event hoped to draw people who have “zeal, heart and potential to be for this generation what Dr. King and so many others were for generations before us,” said contributor Joi Freeman. 

The week-long event drew attendees from all walks of life, including a number of white people from predominantly homogeneous communities. Jade McCormick, a mother of 2 who has been homeschooling her kids throughout the pandemic, had much to say about how this event impacted her.

“Racial injustice in our country is very much center stage in my homeschool history lessons this entire year,” shared McCormick. “I’m hoping the generation we are raising will be more effective at reflecting the righteous justice of Christ in this broken world.”

This past year has made more people aware of the vastly different perceptions fellow citizens and followers of Christ have of the American experience. 

“Our hope was for people from all races and stations to show up in humility to learn together, commemorate the work that has already been done and commit to making forward progress together for the sake of the Gospel,” said Tommy Lee, Executive Director of the Grow Center for Church and Mission.

You can view all sessions from the week’s event at  


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