JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Hundreds gathered Saturday morning to celebrate the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend at a prayer breakfast.

The annual prayer breakfast held every MLK Day weekend in Johnson City filled the gymnasium at Wesley United Methodist Church.

For the first time in three years, the event was held in-person.

The year’s breakfast was themed “Making Connections to Our Beloved Community.”

Lisa Black, a member of the event’s steering committee, said she hoped Dr. King’s message of building stronger communities was imparted upon the business and city leaders in attendance, but more importantly to younger generations.

“Especially incorporating the young people to know more about the past so we can make the connections to the future,” Black said. “He used that theme during the segregation era, connecting people more as community as opposed to neighborhoods.”

A $20 admission fee at the yearly event helps organizers send Johnson City students on tours of the deep South to the significant locations of the civil rights movement.

Several community members of the past and present who emphasized making connections their community were honored.

Long-time Carver Recreation Center supervisor Herb Greenlee was awarded a proclamation from the Tennessee Senate.

The event kicked off a full weekend of events commemorating MLK Day. You can find a full list here.