BLOOMINGTON — Details are complete for two more annual events to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday later this month.

The 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Gospel Festival will be Jan. 20 at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The free public event will be 3 to 9 p.m. in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall. Speakers are expected to include IWU President Richard Wilson and Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner.

On Jan. 12, IWU hosts the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship Dinner, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Young Main Lounge of Memorial Center.

The gospel festival will include performances by The United Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal Mass Choir, The Hour of Deliverance Youth Choir, Crosswinds, Praise on Purpose (POPS) and Gayles Baptist Church Praise Dance and Choir.

Also on the program are The Fantastic Jones Family, Mount Pisgah Sunbeam Choir, Mount Pisgah Adult Choir, Union Missionary Baptist Church Junior Gospel Quartet, Union Baptist Adult Choir, Loving Missionary Baptist Church and more.

The festival and the dinner were founded by the late Corine Sims and her husband, the Rev. James Sims, as a joint effort with IWU and the United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal. King spoke twice at the university, once in 1961 and again in 1966.

Tickets for the fellowship dinner are available until Jan. 9 through the IWU Bookstore at Hansen Student Center.

Admission for adults is $16.50 and $8.25 for children under the age of 12. Call 309-556-3059 or visit

The event, co-sponsored by IWU and the United Community Gospel Singers, will feature a tribute to the Sims’ for their efforts in keeping alive King’s dream. Speakers are expected to include: Wilson; Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White; former Bloomington Mayor Jesse Smart; Mid Central Community Action executive director Deborah White; and retired State Farm executive Willie Brown.

For additional information about the dinner, or to make arrangements for people with disabilities, call 309-556-3111.

A third King-related event is the annual awards luncheon hosted by the Bloomington and Normal human relations commissions. That event is at 1 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal. Tickets are available from commission members, at Normal and Bloomington city halls and at

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