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Annual Report, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Presented on 18 November 1958

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: November 1, 1957 to November 30, 1958

Location: Montgomery, Ala.

Genre: Ephemera

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


Delayed by his ongoing recovery, King delivered this annual report almost a month after the traditional end of the church year. He regretted that “for three long months I found it impossible to occupy the pulpit” and included his personal thanks to the Dexter membership for their support: “As you know, this has been a rather difficult year for me. I have had to confront the brutality of police officers, an unwarr[a]nted arrest, and a near fatal stab wound by a mentally deranged woman." In sections of the report not printed below, King provided a financial report and listed Dexter's officers and leaders, outstanding church events, and outside sermons and lectures he had delivered during the 1957-1958 church year. Kings tally of pastoral chores included twenty-eight sermons preached at Dexter, fifty- four addresses away from home, 106 community and civic meetings attended, and thirty-six personal interviews. He recommended for the 1958-1959 church year that a Young Men's League be organized.

We stand again on the threshold of a new church year. As we prepare to enter this new church year, we may gain guidance and direction by reviewing the experiences of the past.

The 1957-58 church year was another year of spiritual advance. While we lost several good members through death and the process of moving to other sections of the country, we have continued to move on, replacing these persons whenever we could. So in spite of these losses our membership remains about the same. The new members who have joined our fellowship this year have, by and large, given themselves unreservedly to the program of the church.

Financially, we have again demonstrated spiritual maturity. Members have given with a real consciousness of Christian stewardship. 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.

This church year witnessed the construction of a new study for the pastor in the first unit of the church. This undertaking, which cost more than three thousand dollars ($3,000.00), was ably backed by the entire church. When the job was finished the money was all paid. Two members of our official board—Julius Alexander and Winfred Meadows—did the major portion of the work. Several women of the Women's Council chose the furniture and served as interior decorators. Everyone who has seen the study admits that it is a beautiful sight to behold.

Many other significant things have taken place in the life of our church this year. Mention can only be made of a few. The “special days” throughout the church year proved to be tremendously successful. Through these occasions we were priviledged to have our pulpit graced by some of the outstanding personalities of America.1 Each of these great speakers brought something to our community which will have a lasting effect for good.

At the beginning of the church year I recommended that a coordinating council be appointed to assist the pastor in implementing the program of the church. The work of this council—headed by Dr. Zelia Evans and Mr. J. H. Gilchrist—has exceeded all expectations. Especially noteworthy is the way this council has coordinated the work of the month clubs. Every member of Dexter owes a real debt of gratitude to the members of this council.

The various auxiliaries of the church have continued to move on with great positive growth. The new Matrons Circle of the Missionary Society—bearing the name Essie M. Jette Circle—has had a phenomenal growth. It has developed into one of the strongest units of the church. We commend the chairman, Mrs. Catherine Maddox, and all of the fine young ladies working with her.

The various committees of the church are still active and the official board still works as a unit. All of this is indicative of the fact that Dexter is still alive with full blooded activity rather than anemic passivity.

Certainly, I cannot close this message without a personal word of gratitude. As you know, this has been a rather difficult year for me. I have had to confront the brutality of police officers, an unwarrented arrest, and a near fatal stab wound by a mentally deranged woman. These things have poured upon me like staggering torrents on a cold wintry day. But throughout these ordeals, my family and I felt your prayers, concern, and moral support. I am sure that your thoughtful, considerate gestures of goodwill gave me the courage and strength to face the ordeals of that trying period. For three long months I found it impossible to occupy the pulpit. But you carried on in my absence in a high and noble manner. For all of this, I am thankful beyond the power of words to express.

In closing, let me say that the future is filled with vast possibilities—the future of our church and the future of the community. It is my hope that we will move into this promising future with firm commitment and deep dedication. Let us remove from our souls the shackles of fear and the manacles of despair, and move on into this uncertain but promising future with the faith that the dawn of a new day is just around the horizon.

[List of outstanding events, pastor's chores (including outside sermons and lectures), awards received, members added, pastor's recommendations, church officers and leaders, and financial report are omitted.]

1. Speakers during the 1958 church year included Mordecai W. Johnson, A. D. King, Arthur Gray, and Daisy Bates.

Source: DABCC-INP, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church Collection, In Private Hands.

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