Porch Talks for a Beloved Community

A speaker series to be held at Heights Christian Church in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with follow-up sessions in the Greater Cleveland area

Heights Christian Church is a racially integrated congregation in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an intentionally racially integrated suburb of Cleveland. Our congregation has a legacy of speaking out regarding matters of social justice, particularly racial reconciliation.

In July 1965 we took the initiative to invite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at our church. While many people reacted with fear and prejudice, our leadership persevered and Dr. King spoke from a porch of our church to a huge crowd assembled on the church property. (See footage here: https://www.heightschristianchurch.org/history/)

Dr. King often spoke of his vision of the “Beloved Community.”  On its website, The King Center says of that vision:

“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated  because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of  sisterhood and brotherhood.”

The work to achieve that goal continues at Heights Christian Church. 

This year, we are instituting a series of three Porch Talks for a Beloved Community, inviting social justice leaders to share their prophetic voices, to provide a continued call to work toward the Beloved Community that Dr. King imagined. The Porch Talks will occur in May, June, and July 2019, and include a commemoration of Dr. King’s visit here during the July event.  All three talks will be presented from a porch of the church.  (Inclement weather would necessitate a move indoors to our sanctuary which can hold a few hundred people.)

We will plan to offer follow-up sessions for each talk, during which we will build community among audience members, reflect personally and communally on the issues raised by our speakers, foster multiracial communication, and invite participants to dream of a better future together and to create steps to implement those dreams.

Our hope is that Porch Talks for a Beloved Community, including both speakers and follow-up conversations, can become an annual event.

Please check back for updated information