As we come to the end of another church year and stand on the threshold of a new church year, we have much to be proud of. The horizons in the life of Dexter were greatly extended in 1954–55. The church year 1954–55 is history now, but for Dexter it is blessed history.
About thirty new members have joined the fellowship of Dexter this year. This group includes children, young people and adults. A great majority of these new members are now active participants in the life of the church. They have joined with other members in inspiring worship services each Lord’s Day, and in other activities which make up the total work of the church.
Financially, we have done extraordinarily well. Receipts from all sources have exceeded twenty-two thousand dollars ($22,000.00). Of this amount we have given generously for benevolent purposes, missions, and education. Over one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) has been paid into the building fund, and our debt of forty-five hundred dollars ($4,500.00) has been totally liquidated. These figures represent more than cold statistics; rather they express the soul of a church.
Several improvements have been made in the physical structure of the church. These include: carpeting the main auditorium; a public address system; a communion table;/[Footnote:] This lovely communion table was a gift to the church from Mr. William J. Cole of Chicago in memory of his mother./ and painting the basement. Under the leadership of a fine group of ladies from the church, a Sunday nursery has been established in the basement of the church.
Many other wonderful things happened in our church-life this year. Mention will be made here of only a few. For the first time in its history, the church employed a full-time secretary. The benefits from this undertaking have been so tremendous that every member has come to see the indispensability of this office for the general welfare of the church. Twelve month clubs, representing the twelve months of the year, were organized. These clubs have been a great blessing to the church both financially and spiritually. Under the direction of the Scholarship Fund Committee, a scholarship of one hundred dollars ($100.00) was awarded to one of the fine young members of our church who is now a freshman in college. The Cultural Committee brought to Dexter and the Montgomery Community the celebrated choir of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. This event was both culturally uplifting and spiritually stimulating. For the first time in several years, the church, under the dynamic leadership of the Board of Religious Education, undertook a Daily Vacation Bible School. This undertaking was a great success. A Social and Political Action Committee was organized at the beginning of the church year to keep the membership informed concerning social, political, and economic issues. The work of this committee has been superb, and every member of Dexter has felt its influence. Through the work of this committee many persons have become registered voters and Dexter has led all other church of Montgomery in contributions to the NAACP. The “special days” through the church year have been tremendously successful. Through these occasions we have been able to bring to Dexter some of the great minds and pulpiteers of our nation. The various auxiliaries of the church are alive and growing stronger; each of them stands ready to lend its cooperation to the overall work of the church. All of these events speak loudly of the extended horizons of Dexter. We will always remember 1954–55 as the church year in which we reached great heights in fellowship and working together.
Words can never adequately express appreciation. Real appreciation must flow from the deep seas of the heart. But in my little way and with my stumbling words, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to each of you. The wonders that have come about at Dexter this year were not due so much to my leadership, but to the greatness of your followship. The Official Board has worked as a unit and has distinguished itself for peace and harmony and a higher spiritual life. The heads of the various organizations of the church deserve the highest praise. Most of them have worked indefatiguably and assiduously for the success of the overall program of the church.
Now, although these achievements are marvelous, and deserve our highest praise, we must not become so involved in passively idolizing them that we forget the tremendous responsibilities which lie ahead. Institutions, like men, can so easily fall into moribund conditions when they project their visions merely to past achievements rather than future challenges. There is nothing more tragic than to see a church drowning in the deep waters of spiritual stagnancy, and at the last moment reaching out for some thin straw of past achievement in an attempt to survive. We must take these noble achievements of the last church year as challenges to even greater achievements for the new church year. Those great yesterdays must inspire us to work courageously for more noble tomorrows. As we have worked so nobly in the past for this great church which is so near and dear to our hearts, and whose efforts God has so richly crowned with success, so let us work in the future; let each of us go out at this moment with grim and bold determination to extend the horizons of Dexter to new boundaries, and lift the spire of her influence to new heights, so that we will be able to inject new spiritual blood into the veins of this community, transforming its jangling discords into meaningful symphonies of spiritual harmony.
M. L. K., Jr. […]1
The following are recommendations submitted by the pastor for the 1955–56 church year:
1. A page listing “Outstanding Events” is omitted here; the information can be found in the Chronology at the beginning of this volume.
2. Two sections, “Special Sermons and Lectures Away from Home” and “Members Added to the Church,” are omitted; the sermons and lectures are listed in the Chronology.
3. The names have been omitted.
4. A listing of the church members and officers is omitted, as is the detailed financial report.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.