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Plans coming together for Ironton MLK service

Participants sought for community choir

A service set for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is geared toward uniting area congregations.

Rob Hale, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene, said the Ironton Area Unity Service is designed to be “a true community service where all denominations come,” something he said is needed, with all that has been happening in the nation.

“We’ve had a hard time getting denominations together in the past,” he said.

The service, scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at the Nazarene church, will unite congregations from several local churches, with more than 10 pastors involved, and feature gospel music and traditional songs, such as “We Shall Overcome,” from an all-faith community choir.

The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Donte Jackson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntington, a historically black congregation.

Hale said black and white congregations have a tendency not to come together as a community.

“Dr. King said the most segregated hour in America is Sunday morning,” he said. “We hope this will be a catalyst to bring us together for unity in the community of Ironton.”

Hale said planning for the event has been under way for several weeks, and that he has worked with Ironton City Finance Director Kristen Martin and Robert Pleasant, the director of student services and coordinator of diversity and multiculturalism at Ohio University Southern.

Martin, who leads music at Mount Olive Baptist Church, will direct the community choir. Congregations are asked to send members to participate and a practice is set for 5 p.m. on Friday.

Hale said the idea for the service was inspired, in part, by the letter Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith, who will be attending, sent to churches in December, asking for help “to move Ironton forward.”

“One of the things we wanted to accomplish is to build on the good, positive feeling in the area, with all the new businesses and the bridge coming together,” he said. “The churches wanted to further the pride in Ironton.”

He said he hopes the event will lead to further multi-congregation efforts, such as the local Christian community joining with Sharon Baptist Church for Easter sunrise service at the Woodlands Cemetery.

Hale said the program will also include a performance from the Ironton High Varsity Singers, as well as a presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance from Boy Scout Troop 106 of Ironton.

Following the service, the church will host a fellowship. Attendees are asked to bring finger foods and desserts.

For more information, contact Hale at 606-923-3538.