NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Local children will play an important role in Bethel College’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, which will take place on Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium on the Bethel College campus. Peggy Meade-Finizio, director of dance at the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts in Newton, will direct a special children’s choir. There will also be readings by children and young people of selections from letters that children have written to King (taken from the book Dear Dr. King: Letters from Today’s Children to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Hyperion 1998).
The music director for the service is Huron Breaux, Wichita, who will lead an adult gospel choir formed from Bethel College students and Newton-area residents, as well as perform as pianist and baritone soloist. Other vocal soloists are 2005 Bethel College graduates Miranda Crile and Bethany Amstutz, current Bethel student Bridget Kratzer, junior from Newton, Phil Hart, Newton, and Don Woodward, North Newton.
Doug and Jude Krehbiel of Newton, who compose the group Road Less Traveled, will be performing, as will DeAndre Manning, drummer from Wichita, Nathan Webb, bass player from Newton and current student at Wichita State University, and Bethel student Matt Kaiser, senior from Inman, on guitar.
Meade-Finizio is serving as choreographer for the service. The speaker is Sammie Simmons of Newton, customer service integration site manager for Social Rehabilitation Services in Newton and a leader in Newton’s African American community. The emcee and worship leader is the Rev. Bob Layne, rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Newton. Layne worked in the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky in the 1960s.
Five Bethel students will perform a readers theater piece: Darryl Diltz, junior from St. Louis; Adam Gabriel, sophomore from Monrovia, Calif.; Darren Ramsey, sophomore from Wichita; JeT’aime Taylor, junior from Newton; and Sheena Walter, senior from Grand Prairie, Texas.
People of all ages are invited to join the children’s choir or the adult gospel choir for the service. Children’s choir practice will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton. Adults will practice on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 3 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. Call Amy Barker, Bethel College campus pastor, at (316) 284-5288 for more information.
The Monday evening program is free and open to the public.