On 30 November King had written his Crozer classmate a letter praising Whitaker’s newly constructed New Hope Baptist Church and announcing the birth of his daughter, Yolanda Denise.1 In his reply Whitaker says that he hopes King will visit in spring 1956. King wrote “Answered” on the letter and replied affirmatively on 28 December.2
Thanks a lot for your letter a few days ago. I am glad you feel that our building is satisfactory. It is certainly one that was badly needed in our city. And so far things are going quite well. But we have some hard folk to work with from the point of understanding what Church work is all about. But they are gradually coming around.
We are now in the process of building a 6 room house for the pastor. Since we have been here, we have lived in an apartment. Of course this house will be personal property. I have been able to swing a
mortage morgtage for $13,000 with no money in my pocket, merely on community standing as a result of the building of the church. The Lord is certainly with us. If all goes well, we hope to be in it by the time we hope to have you up here just before Easter. So far I have not discussed to any great extent with any of the Church officials the matter of a spring preaching mission, but I am sure it will find no opposition. Therefore I would appreciate it very much if you could put in on your calendar for the whole week just before Easter. I don’t know how this would work out with your own program in view of the fact that you would not have much time to get back to your Church by Easter Sunday morning. But I guess I am going too far. That's for you to decide, isn’t true. Well anyway, you let me know definitely what you can do.
May I say many congratulations to you and Mrs King in the blessing of the Lord of a daughter. I think her name is really beautiful. Many happy returns. But you must remember that you have just begun walking the floor. But I can assure you that they will be pleasant.
Things here in New York are going fairly well. The Baptist in New York is really a disorganized group. Frankly we are not doing much as a group, but churches indivually are really moving forward. When you see Mac give him my best regards.
Dr. Boddie is leaving Rochester to become Assistant Secretary of the Foreign Mission Boards of American Baptist Convention.3 I don’t know much about the set-up, but if you are interested in coming north, it might bear investigation. It looks like it might be a good opportunity for the right man. I feel that you might be the right man.
1. See The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., vol. 2: Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951–November 1955, ed. Clayborne Carson, Ralph E. Luker, Penny A. Russell, and Peter Holloran (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 592-593.
2. The Calendar of Documents provides complete citations for documents referenced in headnotes.
3. Charles Emerson Boddie (1911–), born in New Rochelle, New York, was pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Rochester. He left in 1956 to join the staff of the American Baptist Convention, remaining until 1963, when he became president of the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. Boddie and his brother, J. Timothy Boddie, were friends of the King family. See also Barbour to King, 2 April 1956, pp. 210-211 in this volume.
DABCC-INP, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church Collection, In Private Hands.