By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – For over two decades, the kickoff event for the celebration of Martin Luther King Day has been the early morning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in Midwest City. The public is once again invited to join community leaders, politicians and people of all faiths for a meal and inspirational program to honor the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 23rd Annual Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, themed “Unity” will be held Monday, Jan. 20, from 7 – 9 a.m., at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel in the Reed Conference Center, 5800 Will Rogers Road.
According to organizers, the committee works to obtain monetary support from sponsors to provide the breakfast event in as cost effective a manner as possible to attendees, and to support activities such as scholarship campaigns, educational programs and community service awards.
The brainchild of former Midwest City Police Chief Thomas Michael Jahn, the Prayer Breakfast was first held in 1996. It now draws crowds of 450 to 500 participants annually.
Special guest speakers will be Ann Felton Gilliland, CEO and Chair for Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity and Clarence Hill, Elder and Lead Pastor of Antioch Community Church in Oklahoma City and Norman.
Ann Felton Gilliland joined the board of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity (COHFH) in 1990. Under her leadership the organization builds at least 45-50 new homes per year in central Oklahoma, placing over 1,000 families in new or rehabilitated homes. In 2008, COHFH added the Critical Home Repair program which helps low-income homeowners weatherize, repair, and create accessibility to their homes. COHFH owns and operates two retail ReStores, which serve the Oklahoma City metro area.
A Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, Ann chairs the Task Force on Low-income Housing for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and served for ten years on the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka. Among her many accomplishments, she serves on the board of directors of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the board and executive committee of the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs.
Clarence Hill Jr. is the founder of the Stronger Together Movement, which creates opportunities for leaders and community advocates to make changes together. In 2018, Hill was appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to the State Advisory Group for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Serving as a consultant to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD), Hill is co-chair for OCCHD’s Wellness Now Coalition Leadership Team, which addresses adolescent health, care coordination, health at work, mental health, nutrition and physical activity, and tobacco use prevention.
In 2015, Hill was honored as OCCHD’s Community Champion for the international !00 Million Healthier Lives initiative, for his work in gathering leaders and addressing disparities in Northeast Oklahoma City. Clarence speaks nationwide on issues such as family fragmentation, city transformation, racial harmony, leadership, and compassion.
“As Midwest City Councilwoman and Chair of the Midwest City MLK Prayer Breakfast I am honored and excited,” said Christine Allen. “Midwest City has been hosting this event since 1997 from the Midwest Community Center to the present location, Midwest City Sheraton Hotel Reed Conference Center.
“We will have a great program with KOCO Channel 5 Journalist Patrina Adger as Mistress of Ceremony and great keynote speakers Ann Felton Gilliland and Clarence Hill Jr., as well as well other well knowns in Oklahoma on our program,” Allen added.
MLK Prayer Breakfast tickets for $15 are available for purchase online, or at the Midwest City Community Center, 200 N Midwest Boulevard ((M-F, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 405-739-1293), or at the door, unless sold out. Table sponsorships are $250.
“More than 500 people attend the annual MWC MLK Breakfast to be inspired by keynote speakers, youth presenters, singers and musicians,” said Nathanial Batchelder, director of the Oklahoma City Peace House.
To become an event sponsor or for more information, contact Councilwoman Allen at 405-503-4553.