Centenary Christian Church of Indianapolis created and co-sponsored a community rally and forum, Living out the Dream in Brookside, at Brookside Community Church on Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The church was motivated in part by a recent spike in the number of crimes against women and girls in the Brookside Neighborhood on the near east side of Indianapolis, where the church is located. The church and community also have continuing concerns about the growing rate of crime and illegal drug sales, in a neighborhood that was once a proud and stable community.
In November of last year Gregory E. Bryant, Senior Minister of Centenary Christian Church, received a call from a concerned member about a friend’s daughter who was nearly abducted less than a mile from the church. He soon learned that there had been at least four similar incidents in the community within a month’s time.
Bryant telephoned the Senior Minister of the Brookside church, Aaron Shelby. The two ministers began prayerfully planning a response from the area churches, schools, community organizations, businesses and the police department. After several meetings with various civic and community leaders, the two congregations began to plan an event which would allow the community’s neighbors to voice concerns and dreams for the future of the neighborhood.
Approximately 100 people from the community gathered for “Living out the Dream in Brookside.” Edward Wheeler, President of the Christian Theological Seminary, was the main speaker. Wheeler shared a message titled, “A Letter to Dr. King,” an imaginary letter that Wheeler had written to King, updating the civil rights icon about the latest happenings in our nation, the city, and in the Brookside community.
Marilyn Holtz, a long-time member of Centenary Christian Church, shared about her experience of serving in a Freedom House with Dr. King in Mississippi. Mrs. Loesje Chandler, Centenary’s Minister of Music, directed a combined choir. An additional 30-40 youth and children were involved in youth activities in other parts of the building.
Following the celebration, participants had the opportunity to meet in smaller groups in the church’s gymnasium. Residents were asked to reflect upon certain points in King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech and to share their own concerns and dreams for the community. At each table, a recorder kept a record of the responses.
Sue Switzer, Moderator of Centenary Christian, and Kate Terlep, Centenary’s Student Associate Minister, were both instrumental in making this event happen.