Peoria church celebrates beliefs during MLK celebration

By WEEK Producer

Peoria church celebrates beliefs during MLK celebration

January 20, 2013 Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 11:52 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- People across the nation are gathering early on Sunday to celebrate the Martin Luther King Junior holiday.

For a local group, this year's celebration is a little different from years past. 

New Morning Star Missionary Church in Peoria hosted its 28th annual MLK service Sunday night.

Members of the Peoria Christian Leadership Council attended the service.

They say they're inspired by Doctor King's example of freedom of speech, so they're using the evening's  event to draw attention to anti-gay marriage beliefs.

"It's different for us this year because this a controversial issue like this doesn't come up everyday," said Harold Dawson, Jr., president of the Peoria Christian Leadership Council. "And neither do we have clergy who are willing to speak up in support of an issue like this. But this, I believe, was a climactic moment where we as clergy needed to speak up."

The service continued with keynote speaker Pastor T. Ray McJunkins from Springfield.