WASHINGTON – On Sunday, January 19, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington National Cathedral will welcome Martin Luther King III as a guest preacher at its 11:15 regular Sunday service. The Cathedral will also host a tribute at 4 p.m. reflecting on King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which issued a challenge to the church, and contains some of his strongest language on mutuality of Americans, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The afternoon tribute will feature musical performances from Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel, the Cathedral Band and excerpts from the “Let Freedom Ring” MLK celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, led by music director Rev. Nolan Williams Jr.

King’s letter is especially poignant today as the church confronts the frustrating lack of progress on behalf of its black and brown members and neighbors who are incarcerated.

“At the time that this letter was written, Dr. King was considered a criminal running a movement that encouraged others to disturb the peace,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral. “Dr. King calls us to see the ‘inescapable network of mutuality,’ and recognized that the destiny of people who are imprisoned is bound up with our own. Today we have a holiday that lionizes this man who was arrested and jailed. What will we do so that we see those who are incarcerated today differently?”

As the oldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King III serves as an ambassador of his parents’ legacy of nonviolent social change. He has previously been a guest speaker at the National Cathedral, including previous Martin Luther King Jr. Days and during services marking the anniversary of his father’s last Sunday sermon, which took place on March 31, 1968.

Support for the Cathedral’s annual King tribute comes from the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Advancement Project and the Urban One radio network.

Both Sunday service and the afternoon tribute are free and open to the public, and media are welcome to attend and film inside and outside the Cathedral. Spokespeople, including Dean Hollerith, will be available onsite for interviews. Media interested in attending must RSVP to Meredith MacKenzie, [email protected], (202) 412-4270.


  • Sunday service with Martin Luther King III, guest preacher
    Sunday, Jan. 19, 11:15 a.m. EST
  • Tribute service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    Sunday, Jan. 19,  4 – 5:30 p.m. EST

WHERE: Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016

CONTACT: Meredith MacKenzie, [email protected] (202) 412-4270

About Washington National Cathedral: Washington National Cathedral is dedicated to serve as a house of prayer for all people and a spiritual home for the nation. It seeks to be a catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in the world.