In Fredericksburg, a quiet, three-block march and a packed memorial service at St. George’s Episcopal Church were held in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on April 7, 1968—three days after the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
The sidewalk processional began with about 350 people outside Mount Zion Baptist Church and swelled to an estimated 500 at the hourlong memorial service inside St. George’s. (This week and on Sunday, St. George’s has several events planned in conjunction with its 300th anniversary.)
Marchers, a racially mixed bunch, walked in pairs and trios and formed a queue some 200 yards long on the downtown streets. They were led by area officials and ministers, including state Del. George Rawlings Jr., Fredericksburg Mayor Josiah Rowe III and the chancellor of Mary Washington College.
Highlighting the church service was the reading of several of King’s writings by the Rev. Lawrence Davies, an African American minister who was then a city councilman and the pastor of Shiloh (Old Site) Baptist Church.
Photos of the march and service are included in a new community-curated exhibit at the Fredericksburg Area Museum. “St. George’s: The Church in the Public Square” depicts the parish’s history and philosophies in celebration of its 300th anniversary.
“Our hope with this exhibit is to tell stories about the unique role that St. George’s has had in the public square of Fredericksburg over three centuries,” said the Rev. Joseph Hensley Jr., rector of St. George’s. “There have been times when we have served the community well, and times when we have fallen short. We hope visitors will not only learn about the past but also be inspired to tell the truth and walk in love.”
Among the church’s 300th-anniversary events will be “An Evening with Bishop Curry,” a virtual gathering on Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m. The conversation with the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be held via Zoom and hosted by Hensley and the Rev. Deacon Ed Jones. Advance registration is required at bit.ly/stgbishopcurry.
On May 1 at 11 a.m., St. George’s will welcome the Right Rev. Susan Goff, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, and Mary Katherine Greenlaw, mayor of Fredericksburg, for a special commemoration.
May 1 marks the 300th anniversary of when the legislation that created St. George’s parish officially went into effect. To celebrate, Goff will provide a special blessing and Greenlaw will issue a proclamation. The outdoor ceremony in front of the church at 905 Princess Anne St. will include an unveiling of the parish’s new National Register of Historic Places plaque. This event will be livestreamed on YouTube Live at bit.ly/StGYouTube.
Curry will also preach at the 10 a.m. livestream service on Sunday, May 2.
For more information on the church or its anniversary celebration, visit StGeorgesEpiscopal.net.