Mt. Joy Church sets Jan. 16 MLK Day Celebration

Mt. Joy Church will host its 37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 16.

The in-person event will start at 10 a.m. at the church, located at 327 Olive St. in Edwardsville, and will also be streamed live on the Mt. Joy Facebook page.

There will be a community service event in the lower level from 11 a.m. to noon The event will be hosted by Incarnate Word Academy senior Jasmine Hooks and Edwardsville High School senior Chris Williams.

Three speakers will focus on the theme “Accepting Responsibility for Your Actions,” a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. radio sermon.

Dr. Jessica Harris, Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is the keynote speaker. Harris is an advocate for equity and inclusion, understanding the power that higher education, diversity, access, true inclusion and real opportunity can make for individuals, their families, communities and society. Prior to her appointment in March 2021, she was Assistant Provost for Academic Equity and Inclusive Excellence in the Office of the Provost. A teacher and scholar of 20th century African American History, she is also a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of History and formerly was a Director of the Black Studies Program.

Harris earned both her PhD and Master of Arts in history from Cornell University and her Bachelor of Arts from Dillard University.

Joining Harris is Dr. Allen Duncan, Principal of Liberty Middle School in Edwardsville. In 2020, Duncan was appointed to the Illinois Principals Association Southwestern Region board after becoming principal for Liberty.

Duncan challenged the Liberty Family to do “whatever it takes” not to survive the pandemic but to thrive during the pandemic. Now two and a half years later, walking the halls of Liberty, there is an electric, student-centered atmosphere.

Duncan currently serves as the region’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion liaison. Last year he was awarded the Educator of the Year from NAACP Edwardsville Branch and Middle School Principal of the year by Illinois Principal Association of Southwestern Region. He currently is working to become a John Maxwell Certified Speaker and Coach.

Rounding out the line is Val Jones, youth pastor of Anchored in Truth Ministries in Edwardsville and vice president of the board of directors for Hip Hope Inc., a non-profit organization serving underprivileged/over challenged youth nationwide.

Hip Hope’s mission is to “Help Ignite People’s Hope Over Problems Everyday” using creative arts to educate, motivate, and mobilize. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and is co-owner of Jones Cleaning & Remodeling. she is the founder of Day1withVal, a Christian-based faith and wellness ministry guided by her life’s mantra, “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life!”.

There will be an opportunity for our community to engage in collecting, bagging and distributing hygiene products in the form of “Blessings Bags” directly after the 10 a.m. program. Travel-size hygiene items will be collected at Mt. Joy until the day of the event. During the session a presentation and panel on the history of housing in Edwardsville is planned.  

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Celebration commemorates Dr. King’s legacy. Mt. Joy Church has been part of the greater Edwardsville community since 1869. For more information, call 618-980-7756.