Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Last Sunday I experienced one of the great opportunities of my ministry. I was invited to preach at the Men’s Day Celebration at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery.

I can’t express to you the feeling of standing in the pulpit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was from that platform that he cast a vision that changed the world. It is an awesome thing just to stand there.

The picture below shows that famous pulpit. I also took a picture of Lynn and me in the pulpit. I was smart enough not to let her preach or I might never been invited there again! Somebody told me to never let your wife preach because then everybody would want her instead of you. I could identify with that.


When we first arrived they told me to go into the pastor’s office. Rev. Michael Thurman, the pastor, was waiting.

When we entered the office a group of men were present. They served as a steering committee for the Men’s Celebration.

When Lynn looked at the desk, she commented about how nice and clean it was and I knew she was comparing it to my desk. I was greatly relieved when one of the deacons quickly said, “That is not Rev. Thurman’s desk. That is the ceremonial desk. It is the desk that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used and it is the desk that visitors come to see.”

I was greatly relieved to see that it was not a “working desk.” One thing I have learned in traveling is that many pastors have a nice clean presentable desk when they sit down to talk with people, but in a separate room is the desk where they really do their work. My desk is not as out of place when I see that.

Below is a picture of me sitting at that desk. There is also a picture of the group of men who are leaders at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.


  The worship service was extremely meaningful. I loved the music. They had a group of men in the choir who were all dressed alike and had ties and handkerchiefs that matched. The tie that I had selected for that morning would never confuse me as one of the choir members—neither would my voice.

The chairman of the committee is Mr. Robert James. He has been a real leader in the Y.M.C.A. in Montgomery. He was a staff member. I have served on the Metro Board of Y with many of the leaders from Dexter. It is a church that is still involved in community ministry.

The interesting thing to me was the topic assigned to me – “Men Wanted – For Christian Vision, Family Values, Leadership, and Community Unity.” Wow! The history of that church shows that no church has had a greater vision or greater leadership to changing not only the community but the world. They were asking me to preach on that topic.

I was told that the topic was carefully suggested because it is easy for a church to become complacent. While the history in these areas is great – they wanted to look to the future. It just reminded me that if spend our time trying to drive looking in the rear view mirror, we will have an accident. Our memories can never exceed our dreams for the future. It was inspiring to see a church that is taking that seriously.

It was a special day for Lynn and me. The church was not just a symbol of history – it became a place where I had the opportunity to enter into its ministry today. I pray that God would give me greater Christian visioning, family values, leadership, and involvement in things that bring about community unity. I want to witness more legacies that are still bringing life and effectiveness today.

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