Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The last time I was in Memphis I drove past this building and took this snapshot. It holds so many memories. From the time I was in grade school until college, I remember standing on the front lawn of this building, Mason Temple, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, during our Holy Convocation held every November. The “saints” gathered from all over the world. I huddled between my parents and their friends from Chicago, St. Louis, and all over the midwest. It was like one big homecoming!

My family anticipated this trip every year. We piled into our station wagon, packed out Sunday best outfits, and drove from Central Illinois to Tennessee. We could hardly wait to hear all the good preaching, the fiery evangelists, and Holy Ghost-filled gospel singers and choirs that were absolutely electrifying. I was excited to see the preacher wives dressed in their finest dresses, suits, and hats… oh my, the hats! This was the highlight of our year! 

Thousands of African American church folks poured into Memphis. My family and scores of others had to find lodging in homes because the hotels were not fully integrated, if at all. Mind you, this was mid-60s. Years later, the hotels would become more welcoming to our large denomination and Blacks could book rooms.

I remember stepping inside the vestibule of Mason Temple and reverently passing the crypt where the founder, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, was laid to rest. The auditorium’s capacity was well over 4,000 or so, probably more, as people overflowed into the outer hallways, other assembly rooms, and the perimeter of the building; there had to have been over 10,000 on grounds. I marveled at the loud speakers mounted everywhere so that no matter where we went on the grounds the music and preaching could be heard. Even at a young age, I sensed that this was indeed a holy gathering, and it gave me an immense sense of community. These were my people!

It was years later in my adult life that I realized that Mason Temple was where Dr. King gave his last “Mountaintop” speech the night before his assassination. The Black sanitation workers had summoned Dr. King to Memphis in April 1968 in the height of the Civil Rights struggles. Mason Temple was often used for planning meetings. 

I was in and around this building so many times over the years and had roamed the grounds of Mason Temple and my lived experience had been interwoven and criss-crossed through this historical setting as history was being made. I was raised, nurtured, and given a solid foundation in the safe spaces of my spiritual community during treacherous times. We kept the faith when so many other places, even religious ones, in our society were not welcoming. We knew our sacred worth as children of God.

Today, as a Unity minister, I celebrate and commemorate the life, work, and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thank you, Coretta Scott King and all those who made sure the dream continued at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

I invite you to join me in pledging to continue working to build the Beloved Community so that that we all may experience the love, joy, liberty, and justice for which we were created. I believe non-violence and love are the most powerful tools that can shape our path forward in today’s world. “Deep in my heart, I do believe!” Peace and blessings to all.

Love and joy,

Rev. Dinah Chapman

Favorite MLK Quotes:




The Year in Review (2011)! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Here’s a re-cap….of 2011.

Last year started out for me very busy – – I had started recording my new CD in late 2010 and that project carried over into 2011. At the same time I was completing my Unity teacher practicum that called for teaching a class (Teach Us to Pray by Charles Fillmore) and at last, graduated from the Unity Leadership Program in April 2011. In the midst of all this, let us not forget I was and am still working a highly demanding full-time information systems auditing-type job, which called for me to travel to Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Cleveland within a month’s time (March-April). The fast-pace of constant auditing schedule continued all year long.

In 2011, three friends of mine passed away at my church, and in my own way, I could sense a change was coming in how I would approach and live my life in a more mindful way. Our days are truly numbered here on this planet. So, whatever it is we’re doing, we need to make it count for something and really be about our purpose.

Also in 2011, I also attended Prayer Chaplain training in Sacramento and helped train eight new prayer chaplains. I also took on developing a new member class for church as I continued to record the rest of my CD. I released my new CD “Rivers of Living Waters” in July and kicked off the release by introducing it at the Sound Connections music conference in Lee’s Summit, MO. The celebration was capped off at my CD release party at Tommy T’s Comedy Club in early August. For those of you who attended, all I can say is “WOW! Thank you. My cup runneth over.” You gave me wings to help me fly.

Hats off to all of you at Jai Josef’s Saturday songwriting workshops, of which I was a member over the last year. You all helped me improve my songwriting skills, and I know that I am still growing. So, thank you!

As summer came to an end, I turned my attention to singing and marketing my CD and closing out my teaching practicum, (making sure I completed my 10 toastmaster speeches and final book reports!).  It was time to have even more FUN! (I must say, when you are doing your passion and purpose, it’s usually fun anyway…doesn’t feel like work!)  Some really fun times with my family culminated when we all gathered for the festive celebratory event of the year as my niece Vanessa got married October 8. We were all so excited for her, and the icing on the cake (wedding cake) was seeing and being with family….sharing moments of conversation, laughter, photo-snapping and all! I was SO proud of my dad who took his first flight at age 80 to come to the wedding!!

Right after the wedding, I got news of a dear friend’s passing (God bless you, Zelma), four weeks later a friend since childhood passed away at 59 (God bless you, Vickie) and three weeks later my uncle (my mom’s brother) passed on at age 61 on December 7 (bless you Uncle Larry). My emotions have been on a roller coaster, or so it seems. Here I was at the end of the year thinking we need to make our moments count. I wrote a song on my CD called “Make a Life.” Let us not get so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. So, this past Christmas my focus was on “I am LOVING the ones I’m with! right here, right now.” I would encourage you to share love, share peace, share yourself, your dreams, your hopes, your vision with the rest of us. The LIGHT that has come into the world is still shining in each of us if we let it. Go in peace. I wish you every happiness this year (2012) and always. Have a wonderful year.

And have a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Over the Christmas holiday I traveled to Washington, DC and was able to see the monument. There I am in the photo bundled up in my coat.  It was beautiful.

Blessings, peace, and joy!