'Cathedral to City Hall' event, Memphis, TN



"From the Cathedral to City Hall" is the name of a unique event coming at the end of MLK50 week in Memphis. It is scheduled to begin at 11am on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, 700 Poplar Avenue, and to conclude at 4pm at City Plaza in front of City Hall.

On the morning after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death in 1968, about 300 clergy gathered at St. Mary's. Most were members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance or the Memphis Ministers' Association. After prayer and soul-searching discussion, they adopted a statement favoring the striking city sanitation workers. Then, approximately 150 of them marched from the cathedral to Mayer Henry Loeb's office and presented their demands.

According to historian Michael Honey, author of Down the Jericho Road: the Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign, the stepping up of white clergy bore some significance, as "... the annals of the civil rights movement fail to reveal southern white religious leaders joining blacks in taking such a stand anywhere else in the South."

In this years commemoration, both laity and clergy of all faiths are invited to join in. The schedule is as follows:
  • 11am: "Jubilee Block Party," with food and fellowship hosted by Constance Abbey, a covenantal group affiliated with St. Mary's;
  • 1pm: Inter-Faith Worship Service in the Cathedral sanctuary, led by Dean of the Cathedral Andy Andrews and a wide variety of participants
  • 2:15-2:30pm, approx..: Processional by clergy and laity to City Plaza in front to City Hall
  • 3pm: Citizen's Rally with Speakers Mayor Jim Strickland and a variety of community respondents
At the worship segment, the St. Mary's Cathedral Choir will be joined by the Rust College Choir of Holly Springs.  The Rust group will also sing at the downtown rally. Three well-known veterans of 1968 will be principal speakers at the Worship Segment.  They are: Rev. Dr. James Netters, retired minister of Mount Vernon-Westwood Baptist Church, who was serving on the Memphis City Council during the strike; Father Nicholas Vieron, Ministers' Association Officer and longtime priest at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church; and Rev. Dr. James M. Lawson, Jr., pastor at the time of Centenary United Methodist Church and Director of 68's local support group named Community on the Move for Equality.

Primary sponsor of "From Cathedral to City Hall" is a new citizens' group named Voices for Justice of the Mid-South (VFJ/MS). Working from a faith-based perspective, their purpose is to advocate listening through history as well as today to the voices in our community crying our for social justice. According to co-founder Mark Stansbury, "I am looking forward to seeing on April 7th a much-needed and longed for togetherness in our community."

Stansbury's colleague Mark Matheny is serving in direction of VFJ/MS and can receive questions and suggestions at memtheny@gmail.com or 901-428-4633 and there is a new Facebook page, Voices For Justice of the Mid-South/From Cathedral to City Hall.