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From Melvin H. Watson

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Author: Watson, Melvin H. (Morehouse College)

Date: October 20, 1954

Location: Atlanta, Ga.

Genre: Letter

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


King had sent copies of “Recommendations to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church for the Fiscal Year 1954–1955” to colleagues for comment.

Reverend M. L. King, Jr., Pastor
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Young-in-coming Doctor:

Greetings and salutations!

I have read with more than usual interest and satisfaction the recommendations made by you to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Please allow me to make one or two observations in regard to them. In the first place, the recommendations give clear evidence of careful thought. The manner in which they are put together deserves praise. They are far-reaching in scope, and, happily, at several points depart from the beaten path. Secondly, Dexter Avenue has displayed the depth of its yearning for a constructive program by the mood in which it accepted the recommendations. Surely this is a favorable omen for your ministry in the Montgomery Community. The third observation is in the form of an amber light. Organization is necessary for the advancing life of any institution. Religious institutions, however, have to be on their guard always against over-organization. Hectic activity in the church in not necessarily an indication that the cause of the Kingdom is being promoted. I am confident that I am not telling you something which you do not already know full well. So this is written not in the spirit of accusing you of anything, but in the spirit of a reminder.

When I reached nos. 12 and 13 on the list of recommendations, I found myself pausing and reviewing hastily the types of organizations already called for in the previous recommendations. When I completed the list I returned to these same two items to examine them for purpose. I don’t believe my questions regarding these two arise out of any bias against them as legitimate church activities.

Let me close by saying that your two introductory paragraphs were beautifully and appropriately formulated.

It is my hope and prayer that God will bless your ministry at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and in the whole city.

Sincerely yours,
Melvin Watson

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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