The 1898 Centennial Foundation was formed by Wilmington civic leaders to commemorate the violence that occurred in Wilmington in 1898.
Pearsall Memorial minister Rev. June Highfill and Rev. Johnny Calhoun, then pastor of St. Stephen AME were asked to co-chair a Ministerial Roundtable which would bring the faith community into the foundation’s efforts to remember and commemorate our city’s history.
At about the same time the Roundtable was forming there were Sunday evening community services that were being held in various African Amerian churches. Rev. Highfill was in the congregation at St. Luke’s when Rev. Joe Brown said, “This community does not have a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service. That is a shame and we need to do something about that. I see Rev. June Highfill, co-chair of the Ministerial Roundtable, here in the congregation tonight. Rev. Highfill, what are we going to do about that?”
The next year Wilmington’s first city-wide ecumenical service honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held at Fifth Ave. United Methodist Church. The annual service has taken place in local houses of worship for the last 13 years. Rev. June Highfill preached the eleventh annual MLK service in 2011, the first Wilmington pastor to do so.
The Ministerial Roundtable continues to meet each month.
The Ministerial roundtable is a group of ministers in the greater Wilmington, NC area which is committed to resisting racism in our own lives, in our congregations, and in our community. The Roundtable was organized in 1998 by the 1898 Centennial Foundation to bring clergy together to participate in the commemoration of the 1898 coup d’etat in Wilmington.
The Ministerial Roundtable is committed to gathering together in order to forge friendships with one another, to seek a clearer understanding of God’s will for human community, to encourage one another to engage our congregations in the struggle against racism, and to be faithful participants in the racial healing we believe God is carrying out in our nation.
We believe God calls us to repent of attitudes which demean others, to repent of institutional practices which foster homogeneous worship and religious life, and to repent of and correct injustices in our city and nation which deny life as God intended it for all people.
We believe that peace eludes all members of a society wherever any are hated or oppressed.