On June 17, seventeen of the nation’s most influential ministers launched the Faith Based Countdown to Completion campaign to raise the remaining $13 million for the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. The ministers jointly responsible for having raised $1.4 million for the memorial are challenging other ministers nationwide to join their cause. The campaign will conclude on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17, 2011. “People often forget that King was not only a civil rights leader, but also a minister. His connection to our community must be realized and appreciated,” said the Rev. Joseph Ratliff, pastor of Brentwood Baptist of Houston, in a press statement.

Churches giving more than $5,000 to support the King Memorial will receive VIP invitations to various special events during the week long dedication activities and permanent recognition at the memorial site, Ratliff stated.

With over $107 million raised for the Memorial, the development of the Faith Based Leadership Council has brought about a strong and effective outreach to the nation’s church-goers. Ratliff serves as co-chair with the Rev. Frederick Haines of Friendship-West Baptist of Dallas on the council. 

Four of the major churches involved in this effort are Hartford Memorial Baptist of Detroit, Brentwood Baptist of Houston, Friendship-West Baptist of Dallas and Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago.  These four churches have been assisting the Memorial Foundation since the campaign’s early years. 

Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the memorial foundation, thanked the religious leaders for their efforts.”I am grateful to have such generous and influential pastors taking up the charge to assist us complete fundraising,” said Johnson in a statement.

“This project could never have been done without the generosity of the faith community, and for their continued contributions, I am overjoyed.”