Reynoldsburg resident John Tyus was among eight Ohioans recognized for their efforts to advance nonviolent social change at the 31st annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration on Jan. 14 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus.

Reynoldsburg resident John Tyus was among eight Ohioans recognized for their efforts to advance nonviolent social change at the 31st annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration on Jan. 14 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus.

Dr. Tyus, assistant pastor at World Conquerors through Jesus Christ, a church on the West Side of Columbus, received the Social Justice Award, along with Dr. Joe Coffey, lead pastor at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson.

"I felt really honored to be recognized," Tyus said. "Sometimes, you do your work and then someone takes the time to recognize it, and it makes you really want to continue to work hard and effect changes in young men's lives."

Tyus created and coordinates a mentoring program at his church called the I.D. Movement for fatherless African-American males. He also lectures at schools, churches and other organizations, talking about character development and career development for young people.

The other MLK award recipients were the Rev. Dianna Shurelds of Lima, who won the Governor's Humanitarian Award; the Rev. Mark Ford, winner of the Community Building Award; Greg Merkel of Lima, Cultural Awareness Award; Melinda Carter of Columbus, Economic Opportunity Award; and Robert Decatur of Columbus, winner of the Educational Excellence Award.

The awards were sponsored by the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.

One of the members of that commission is Gahanna resident the Rev. Joel L. King Jr., a first cousin to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We try to honor individuals who exemplify the values that Dr. King left for us," King said. "What they are doing is over and above their normal life activities, and they are making a difference in their communities."

King is a chaplain at the Gahanna Division of Police.

Tyus earned a doctorate in ministry from the United Theological Seminary. His dissertation, titled "Designing a Mentoring Program for Fatherless Black Males in a Post-modern Generation," led to the creation of the I.D. Movement.

"Through my research on fatherless black males, I decided I had to put some things into action at my church," he said. "We did a pilot program that was very successful, but this program is still in its baby stages. We are working to make the curriculum more robust and currently serve young men ages 12 to 18."

He said the mentoring group meets once a week at World Conquerors Through Jesus Christ.

"We talk about character development and have added career development as well," he said. "We are teaching the young men interview skills and also how to write resumes."

He said the pilot program began about a year ago with eight young men, but he is hoping to serve at least 15 during each cycle of classes at the church.

"We want to expand our numbers in the future to serve 60 to 80 young men each year," he said.

The group is working on a documentary film.

"We filmed the pilot sessions and did interviews with former (Columbus) Mayor (Michael) Coleman and a host of other people, speaking about the importance of fatherhood, and hope to release it in a month or so," Tyus said.

He said one of his goals is to bring the I.D. Movement to other inner-city areas in Ohio.

"We have contacted potential partners to take the program to different cities, so we could have an I.D. Movement in Cleveland, Toledo and Akron, along with other cities," he said.