Des Moines, Iowa — Don’t just remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., strive to be like him. “To reflect, to remember and to be in community,” said Brian Brown the campus pastor at Hope+Elim Church in Des Moines.

The church along University Avenue across the street from Drake’s campus helped honor and host a free community event in remembrance of the civil rights leader. “We are hosting the event at hope elim but we are hosting it for the community,” said Brown.

On Monday the free celebration was open to all. All backgrounds gathered inside thr auditorium much like the nearly 900 that did so inside in 1959 when Dr. King spoke on the same auditorium stage. It would be perhaps his only documented public speech in Des Moines. “I feel like that part of the spirit of Dr. King and there is a residue here and there’s a piece that resides hopefully not only here but in this community,” Brown said.

Former NFL player and ESPN analyst Sam Acho served as guest speaker. Brown said, “He is a book writer and also a humanitarian. He’s someone who also does work with the International Justice mission and he is the real deal.”

Hope+Elim is just two years old but the church building has history dating back to 1889. It was University Christian Church in 1959 when Dr. King gave his speech inside. The partnership today is significant to Dr. King’s dream. The Hope Church is a predominantly white church combining with Elim, a predominantly black church all for one positive goal of unity. Brown said, “Coming together to serve this community and I think that is something while he wasn’t specific in his speech it was germane throughout all his life. The ideal of coming together and living in a community. That is what we are doing.”

One day to celebrate one man’s dream to create a better world through community. “I think it means more when you can actually take a step and make some effort. Get involved and be in community. Those are the things he fought for. Those are some of the things he stood for,” said Brown.

The event was held from 11:30am-1:00pm. On Wednesday the church hopes to hand out meals packaged during a community service day over the weekend. The meals are free to the public every Wednesday evening.