As we observe the great work of Martin Luther King Jr., it’s worth taking a second to look at his father, Martin Luther King Sr. There is a rarely known fact about Martin Luther King Sr. that had a great impact on the world.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Sr. pastored the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for nearly 50 years. He had been with the church as assistant pastor for 5 years before becoming pastor in April of 1932. It was 2 years later that something would happen that would change the lives of his family forever.
In the summer of 1934, the Ebenezer Baptist Church sent Rev. King traveling on the other side of the world, visiting places such as Rome, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. It was his stop in Berlin on that trip to attend a Baptist World Alliance meeting that would have a major impact on his life, his family’s life, and, to some degree, the world at large.
Opposing World Views
The Elder King arrived just after Adolf Hitler had become chancellor of Germany. The rise of hatred, anti-semitism, and oppression was all around, yet it was something else that garnered much of the Rev. King’s attention.
As he toured the country where Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door in direct opposition to the Catholic Church, he became overwhelmingly obsessed with the man that incited the protestant reformation. This act by Martin Luther calling for a more inclusive church stood in stark contrast to the Nazi uprising at the time.
After he returned home, he couldn’t shake it. It was that year that Reverend Michael L King, Sr. decided to change his name to Martin Luther King Sr. Although Martin Luther King Sr. also renamed Michael King Jr. to Martin Luther King Jr, it wasn’t until nearly 15 years later that Dr. King was comfortable using this name for himself.
What’s in a Name
There is something profound about the changing of the name of Dr. King. Although Michael is a strong and courageous name, there is something about the name Martin Luther that almost paves a path that continues the legacy of one of the church’s great reformers. To carry on this legacy was a mantle that Dr. King was amazingly suited for.
If it wasn’t for the name change of Martin Luther King Sr., we surely would have seen similar and far reaching impacts from Dr. King. Still, it’s the continuation of a great and glorious legacy that continues to make the name ring out with a beautiful and rich heritage well beyond where it started.