By Casey Nolen
Collinsville, IL (KSDK) - For many, Monday was a day off in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., especially for state and federal workers.
But not all city governments honor the holiday and that has some in one Illinois community concerned.
The message inside the church was all about the power of unity, but there are some who are worried about the message the city is sending.
They gathered in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , and heard a message that challenged the racial lines that can divide even churches. But for some the message they fear their city is sending was also their minds.
Collinsville is one of just a few cities in the metro area that does not close its doors for the state and federal MLK holiday, and that's drawn criticism from some citizens.
"I think that's the reason the city kind of has a bit of a reputation of not being as racially harmonious as we would like it to be. When we see the city not participating in things like this it's kind of hard to shake that feeling," said resident Pamela Sanders.
Collinsville's mayor was a guest speaker at Monday's service. He says the holiday flap is overblown.
"I think there's been too much emphasis put on the fact that city hall is open rather than the fact of what Martin Luther King, Jr. has done," said Mayor John Miller.
He says the city is exploring ways to change its policy by next year, possibly allowing employees to swap another holiday for Martin Luther King Day.
"We have 160 employees and giving them another holiday could be very costly for the city," said Mayor Miller.
"I'm leaving here feeling that the mix of the crowd encourages me," said Sanders as she left First United Methodist Church in Collinsville where Monday's service was held after out-growing last year's location.
"I think everybody in this community is trying their hardest to have the unity Dr. King talked about," Sanders said.