March, unity service to celebrate MLK Jr.

Flo Johnston Contributing columnist

January 9, 2014

With the annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. coming up Jan. 18-20 in Laurinburg, area Christians are challenged to pursue God’s beloved community here and now.

A well known and often cited passage of Scripture from the Old Testament prophet Micah comes to mind. This is a passage just as significant for Christians as it is for Jews because it speaks to the question of what God requires of God’s people.

The answer comes in the form of a question: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”

As we observe divisiveness and inequality, fueled by political, economic and social issues creating chasms between neighbors, part of the answer may be to engage in thought-provoking topics that are timely to life here and now and to seek to be bridge builders and peacemakers.

Last summer and into the fall, some Laurinburg folks joined other Christians and just regular folks from across North Carolina to take part in Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. The issues at stake were not just political nor were they black and white issues, they were justice issues.

Thus, this year’s MLK celebration may well take on special meaning for North Carolina as America takes note of this holiday.

Following are events, two sponsored by the Ministerial Alliance of Scotland County and a third by the Laurinburg Chapter of the NAACP. Members of the community as well as members of all congregations are invited to take part in these events.

MLK UNITY BREAKFAST: This annual event sponsored by the Alliance, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 9 a.m. at Galilee United Methodist Church, 909 McGirt Bridge Road.

A full breakfast of eggs, bacon, grits and toast will be served and will be followed by a worship service with a message by the Rev. Linda Nelson, pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Living Word and chaplain at Scotia Village.

“We anticipate her message as she has been a faithful supporter of the MLK activities for many years,” said Pastor B.J. Gibson of Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church.

“Her genuine love and constant support of the efforts of the community of a whole proves her unselfish love for mankind.”

Breakfast tickets are $8 and all proceeds will go to the Scholarship Fund, a project of the Alliance that awards scholarships to selected high school graduates who are going to college.

In years past, scholarships have been as much as $650, depending on how much the Alliance has been able to raise. Last year, the organization awarded six scholarships of $450 each, said Pastor Ruby Lennon of Westminster Presbyterian.

MLK celebrations have been held all over Scotland County in various locations for more than 30 years, according to Pastor Gibson.

“Usually during election years the participation is more diverse due to political candidates participating. On a regular year, however, participation will include some diversity but not much.

“We do, however, invite the entire community to participate as the fights of Dr. King were not about color issues but justice issues and we stand on those same premises now,” he said.

MLK UNITY SERVICE: The Rev. Gregory Taylor, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bladenboro, but a Laurinburg resident, is the featured speaker. The service is set for Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at Jones Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 11761 Johns Road.

“Rev. Taylor is married to the former Junetta Harrell, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Anzell Harrell, long time educators and leaders in our community,” Gibson said. “He is a proven leader, teacher, and compassionate believer in the work of Dr. King.”

MARCH ON KING’S BIRTHDAY: This event is sponsored by the Scotland County Branch of the NAACP and will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, at the National Guard Armory on South Main Street. Marchers will travel down Main Street to Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, 601 N. Main St. where the MLK Day worship service will be held.

The Rev. Vermel Taylor, pastor of Galilee United Methodist Church, will be the keynote speaker. Her speech is titled “Fight for Power and End the War on the Poor.”

Lunch will follow and all are invited.

Pastor Terrance Williams of From the Word Ministries and the local president of the NAACP, said this week that the Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP, will not attend this event in Laurinburg as was previously announced.

All are invited to take part in the march, to hear the keynote address and to eat lunch.