Church to host Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on Jan. 17

Founded in 2014, the American Baptist-affiliated Dare to Imagine church in East Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, has committed to helping community members “dare to imagine” a better world through the lens of ministry and social justice issues. Under the leadership of Pastor Kevin R. Johnson—known as “Pastor K.J.”—Dare to Imagine has initiated several community outreach projects with the mission of connecting people to Jesus Christ.

On Monday, Jan. 17, 11-1 p.m. in the church’s main auditorium at 6610 Anderson Street, Dare to Imagine will host a special event–sponsored by the church’s children and youth division–in commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Participants will take a closer look at the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala., that claimed the lives of four Black girls while they attended Sunday school.

“It was more than a bombing; it was domestic terrorism,” said Johnson. “Losing their lives in a sacred, peaceful place changed the way America and Black people saw how they needed to fight. They were no longer scared. It was a major spark to many more efforts to bring about justice and voting rights bills for Black people.”

The event will feature guest speaker Lisa McNair, civil rights activist and sister of Denise McNair, one of the bombing victims. Participants will bear witness to the direct link between the struggles of Black people in America and how movements change over time.

“The struggle continues for all people of color. We are asking people to come out and continue in that same spirit,” says Johnson.

King’s legacy of servanthood and speaking truth to power influenced the formation of this event. Immediately following the discussion, audience members and other volunteers can help prepare care kits for Stenton Family Manor, a faith-based shelter serving those struggling with homelessness in Philadelphia. Learn more at

For those unable to attend the event in person, it will be live streamed at