‘With Dr. King, I saw a commitment to his calling’

Andy Simmons

February 18, 2014

Students and faculty gathered Monday at Point University in West Point to hear stories from Tim Sutton in honor of Black History Month.

Sutton, a 2013 Point University graduate, was baptized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shortly before King was assassinated in 1967. Sutton also was a member of Ebenzer Baptist Church, where he formed a close relationship with King’s mother, Alberta Williams King.

Point University President Dean Collins gave a brief introduction of Sutton, recalling the first time he met Sutton in 2008.

“A professor called me and said ‘You’re not going to believe this, but we have a student that was baptized by Dr. King. Would you like to hear his story?’” Collins said. “I called Tim and asked him if he would tell me his story. He did, but he said he would do one better. He said ‘I’ll come listen to you preach and lend you moral support.’ He did that and I have been so proud of him in his journey now in seminary.”

Sutton began by telling of his experience at Point University and how he wanted to go back to school to “make a difference.”

“Before I could make that difference, I wanted to get a clear definition of what we are doing in church,” he said. “I thank God for Point University. It showed me what I was called to do and what the church was all about.”

Many within the Point University system were fascinated by the fact that he was baptised by King, but to him it was just “something that happened.”

“I was 12 years old when I was baptized,” Sutton said. “I wasn’t much into the media and what was happening, so for me to be baptized by him, I never knew how significant that would be.”

Sutton said that Martin Luther King Jr. was very much a presence in his life, but one person that made a bigger impact was King’s mother.

“If you ever met Dr. King’s mother, Alberta Williams King, you would know why he was the man that he was,” Sutton said. “I love telling the story of Mrs. King. The reason I think she was so significant was that she inspired me. She would invite me to do the youth day program.”

At first, Sutton was intimidated by doing the daunting task of presenting the readings in front of such a big congregation, but he just couldn’t say no the Alberta King’s smile

“The smile sealed the deal,” Sutton said. “After the youth day programs, she would come up to me and tell me how great I did.”

Sutton then reflected on his experience with Martin Luther King Jr. and how he never forsook his duty as a minister, despite his involvement with the social issues going on at that time.

“My being baptized is a testament to that,” Sutton said. “Dr. King never forsaked the ministry for the gospel. If you listened to his speeches, he would tell people and remind them that ‘I am first a baptist minister, called by God to do his duties.’ With Dr. King, I saw a commitment to his calling.”

Sutton hopes to one day become a chaplain that works within the federal prison system, preaching the gospel to inmates. He believes that that is his calling to life. He encouraged all who attended Monday’s lecture to follow their calling to the kingdom as well.

“Whether it seems big or small, if it’s for the kingdom of God, there’s nothing small about it,” he said.