Faith community holds memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King on 55th anniversary of his assassination

Faith leaders and community members gathered in Philadelphia to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on 55th anniversary of his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. 

The commemoration began Tuesday outside the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral at 6:01 p.m., the exact moment Dr. King was killed on April 4th, 1968. The co-founder of the group RawTools sawed in half the type of rifle that James Earl Ray used to kill the civil rights icon.

"He was such a powerful voice for peace and non-violence, so we want to celebrate him," Executive Director of RawTools Shane Claiborne said. "I thought this would be a great way to do it."

RawTools, a non-profit organization, normally turns guns into gardening tools, but they plan on turning the destroyed rifle into a cross. In a city plagued with gun violence as badly as Philadelphia has been over the recent years, some felt the gesture was relatable on a different level. 

"They took that rifle and they cut it in half, isn't that what we want to do, take these weapons and cut them in half and make them useless," Pastor of Christ Community Church of Philadelphia Pam Davis said. 

Tuesday night's event also included music and experts from Dr. King's various speeches, including the last one he delivered before he died. The service concluded with church bells tolling 55 times for the 55 years Kings has been gone.

"I think we can't lose heart and we have to encourage one another, that is really the only way forward," Dean of Philadelphia's Episcopal Cathedral Judy Sullivan said.