We, the members of MLK Jr. Community Church envision a thriving church where we deepen our individual relationship with God which will promote servanthood to one another and a commitment to work fervently and faithfully within this congregation. Our vision is to evolve spiritually and to demonstrate this spiritual maturity in our thoughts, actions, words, and hearts, manifesting the love of God in our interactions with others. We desire to follow the example of Christ who said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4: 18-19
Our mission is to:
In 1897, the church, located in the Winchester Square area, was dedicated as the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield. At that time, it was a predominately white congregation. As the neighborhood changed, more Black Americans began to attend. Over the years, as some of the original church families moved to more affluent neighborhoods, the church membership dwindled but not the desire to worship and serve God and to be a beacon of light within the community. It’s rich heritage of advocacy and social justice originated from the quest of its predominantly black members to fight oppression on all levels in Winchester Square now known as Mason Square.
In June of 1973, the remaining twenty-one active members of the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield decided to call the first African American pastor in the church's 80-year history, the Reverend Ronald E. Peters, now known as Reverend Dr. Ronald E. Peters, to provide new leadership. He was installed in September 1973.
In April of 1974 under Rev. Peters’ leadership, a group of new members with a vision for reorganization met and formulated a plan for revitalization, including a new name to symbolize the new beginning. In May 1974 a Steering Committee was formed and launched a campaign called “Project Mustard Seed.” Later, a campaign was launched to establish the MLK, Jr. Community Center. The purpose of this center was to house and expand the economic and social services that had been housed at the MLK, Jr. Fellowship House which was next to the church.
In September 1974 the Presbytery of Southern New England (PSNE) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to officially dissolve First Church and support the efforts of the New Church Development. By June of 1978, the membership of the church had grown to 160 persons. On November 18, 1978 the PSNE voted to officially organize the new fellowship as the only African American Presbyterian Church in the bounds of Southern New England Presbytery. On Sunday, January 28, 1979, the PSNE met at 14 Concord Terrace in Springfield and officially organized the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church.
In 1986, Rev. Peters relocated to Florida before completion of the construction of the MLK, Jr. Community Center. The Reverend Edward P. Harding, Youth Minster who served under Rev. Peters provided continuity in pastoral leadership and oversaw the program organization and completion of the construction of the Community Center and its grand opening in 1990.
Pastoral leadership changed over the years following Rev. Dr. Edward Harding (1986-1992), with Rev. Dr. Barbara Headley (1993-1994), the late Rev. Morris Stimage-Norwood (1995-2000) and Rev. Alyce M. Kelly (2003 - 2005). For far too many years, we were without consistent pastoral leadership. Yet, we have maintained our dedication to God and this community, continuing to advocate for and minister to those in need. Our future is bright with the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Terrlyn Avery Curry. We will continue to press on!
In gratitude to God and our ancestors, we will continue to press on and honor the legacy of the MLK, Jr. Community Presbyterian Church, to strive toward social justice and enhance opportunities and services in Mason Square. Project Mustard Seed and most of the original church ministries continue including MLK, Jr. Family Services, MLK, Jr. Charter School, annual Black College Tour, the Food Bank, multiple youth and young adult services and programming and critical services for families throughout Mason Square and Western Massachusetts.
Mason Square has benefited from the commitment of the church and the mighty men and women of God and congregation. The faith of the “Mustard Seed” continues to mature and develop the faith and spirit of our community. To God be the glory!