The annual observance of Martin Luther King Day is Jan. 17, and Southern California Christian and Jewish congregations are preparing a series of events to mark the occasion.
The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is for clergy and congregants alike an occasion to remember the civil rights leader's dream and to recommit themselves to working for racial and economic justice.
For others, it is also a time to rebuild relationships between African Americans and Jews, which in recent years have sometimes been strained.
One of the first observances will be held jointly by Congregation Beth Shir Sholom of Santa Monica and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Santa Monica.
"Last year's joint celebration was a spiritual event for us, an awakening and a reawakening for us in terms of our commitment first to continue the work of Dr. King that is inspired and dictated by his legacy, and also to commit ourselves to grow in a covenant relationship with one another," Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels said.
"We want to assure for ourselves and for our children [that] the communication and the power of the connection between the African American community and the Jewish community [will] be strengthened."
The first joint observance will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Beth Shir Sholom, 1827 California Ave., Santa Monica. The theme is "Dreaming Together." The First AME choir and Beth Shir Sholom's musicians, Tish Tones, will join in the service. The second observance will be at the AME church, 1823 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, at 11 a.m. Jan. 16. Traditions and music of both congregations will be blended into the service.
Other King Day observances include an interfaith prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. Wednesday featuring the Rev. Jim Lawson, who was a close associate of King. The annual breakfast is sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Lawson will speak on continuing King assassination investigations and the role of religious institutions in bringing about social change. Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd., $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For reservations, call (213) 250-8787.
Father Jim Goode, a Catholic speaker and evangelist, will give the keynote address, "Realizing the Dream in the New Millennium," at the King Day prayer breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 17 at Verbum Dei High School, 11100 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles. $12. For reservations, call (213) 637-7435.
The 15th annual commemorative concert in honor of King will be presented at 4 p.m. Jan. 16 at Founder's Church of Religious Science, 3281 W. 6th St. Free. (310) 243-2463.
Poet Merle Feld, author of "A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey," will speak at 10 a.m. Sunday at Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. Free. (323) 876-8330.
* Sister Mohini, U.S. president of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization, will speak from 6 to 9 p.m. today at the organizations's new Southern California headquarters, 908 S. Stanley Ave., Los Angeles. She is the organization's main representative to the United Nations. Free. (323) 933-2808.
* The family film "A Vow to Cherish" will be screened at 7 p.m. today at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 588 Camino Manzanas, Thousand Oaks. Free. (805) 498-4502.
* Shirley Mangini, author of "Secrets of Self-Esteem" and a marriage, family and child counselor who specializes in addiction counseling for the chemically dependent, will speak at 3 p.m. Sunday at Woodland Hills Community Church, 21338 Dumetz Road, Woodland Hills. (818) 346-9732.
French-language Roman Catholic Masses will be said at St. John Mary Vianney's Chapel, 229 S. Detroit Ave., Los Angeles, at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and Jan. 16, and at noon Jan. 23 and Jan. 30. (310) 842-6078.
"Hope Is in the Air," a benefit concern and reception to celebrate the establishment of the Wendy's Hope assistance fund for lesbians with cancer and other life-threatening illness, will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 15. The fund was started by Congregation Kol Ami, but will be administered by the City of Hope. The fund-raiser will be held at the Village, 1125 McCadden Place, Hollywood. $75 to $1,000. (310) 248-6320.
Notices may be mailed for consideration to Southern California File, c/o Religion Editor, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, faxed to Southern California File at (213) 237-4712, or e-mailed to email@example.com. Items should arrive two to three weeks before the event and should include pertinent details about the people and organizations with address, phone number, date and time. Because of the volume of submissions, we cannot guarantee publication.