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To Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Members

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church)

Date: October 27, 1955

Location: Montgomery, Ala.

Genre: Letter

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


King distributed this letter and the annual report to the members of Dexter at the end of his first year as pastor. In his annual message King summarizes the accomplishments of the church, including the liquidation of its substantial debt and the “superb” work of the Social and Political Action Committee. “Through the work of this committee many persons have become registered voters and Dexter has led all other church[es] of Montgomery in contributions to the NAACP.” King presents recommendations for the next year and asks the congregation to increase their financial contributions to the church.

Dear Member:

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 about to become history now, but for Dexter it is blessed history.

Words can never adequately express appreciation. Real appreciation must flow from the deep seas of the heart. But with my stumbling words, I want to express my deepest appreciation to you for your cooperation with the church program, and for the financial contributions you have made.

Now we prepare for the new church year. Our new church year begins Sunday November 5, and goes thru the last Sunday in October, 1956. We solicit your cooperation and prayers that our work for Kingdom building will reach new heights in the 1955–56 church year. As you can see from the enclosed budget, our financial responsibilities are even greater than last year. This is naturally the case, since we are determined to move forward every year, rather than remain stagnant. Since our budget is higher this year, we are expecting every loyal member to make a pledge to the Unified Budget of the church, and we are requesting every member to increase his pledge over last year. We need the help of every member. We need your help. As you prayerfully consider your part, would you kindly sign and return the enclosed Commitment Card, stating how much you will pledge. At the bottom of the budget you will notice a list of possible commitments. Please seek to make your pledge within one of these categories. Seek to fit into the highest category possible. We need a minimum of $20,000.00 in pledges.

It would be a fine idea for you to consider tithing this year. This is a debt that we all owe to God. If your income is $300.00 per month, 10 percent is $30.00. This should be the minimum that you consider giving. Most of us, “out of speechless gratitude for the redemption of Jesus Christ,” know that we should give more.

May I close by asking you to consider this question: Where else in all the world can a dollar buy so much?

May God bless you abundantly.

Yours in His service,

M. L. King, Jr., Pastor


P.S. Be sure to fill out the Information Card in detail, and return it to the church office with the Commitment Card. This information is of vital importance for our church records.

Source: Zelia S. Evans and J. T. Alexander, eds., Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, 1877–1977 (Montgomery, Ala.: Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, 1978), pp. 79–80.

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