The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death celebrated the nation’s greatest advocate of nonviolent liberation and humanitarian rights for all people.
A gathering, including community leaders and public officials, which spoke to Dr. King’s values, took place at Trinity Presbyterian Church, where Dr. Jeffery W. Beebe is interim pastor. It was spearheaded by Chapter 2 of the New York City Transit Retirees of Palm Coast (NYCTR).
The Ecumenical Choir rendered “Total Praise” and Bethune-Cookman University student Alexis Williams performed “Better Days.”
Message by Miller
Keynote speaker John Miller Jr. asserted that we must change how we think to build a better tomorrow to make Dr. King’s dream fulfilled.
Miller is a retired Master Chief Petty Officer, who has served 30 years of active duty service.
He earned a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and began working in Palm Coast in 1992 as a management trainer/facilitator for the FAA’s Center for Management Development.
Plea for change
Miller, who resides in Orange Park with his wife, Marylyn, readdressed the issue, affirming, “Change how you think. We do it everyday.
“You go to the bowling alley, and you change how you think before you throw the ball down the lane, if you want a strike,” he added. “You go play baseball. You change what you think so you can hit a home run…
He continued, “We do it everyday…for fun and other things…but to make us a better person – to shift a change in the world to realize the dream that Dr. King put out for us – we don’t give it a thought.
“If you really want to make a difference,” declared Miller, “you’ll think about not only how you think, but you’ll think about how you speak. You’ll think about your impact, your way with words. You’ll slow down your thought process. You’ll allow feedback.”
Living out the dream
Miller’s no-nonsense approach to learning has proven to be effective for a wide range of organizations – namely, the Department of Transportation; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of North Florida; Homeland Security; and the University of Arizona.
Marie McCray, NYCTR president, added that “Dr. King had a dream, and we are the generation which has been afforded the privilege of living out this dream of civil and economic rights, unity, and equality.”
Others participating were William Godfrey, NYCTR, and the clergy: Reverends Kevin McCarthy, Reggie Bynum, Cheryl Daniels, Sheryl Sumlin-Walker, as well as other collaborators.
Churches unite for prayer and song
Superlative music and the infusion of making things happen through the Word were presented at Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church in Flagler Beach for the Ninth Annual Flagler Ecumenical Celebration of Unity in Prayer and Song.
Dr. Chau T. Phan, Associate Diocesan Ecumenical Officer of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, has been dubbed “Mr. Christian Unity” by Father Alberto Esposito.
Father Esposito serves as the pastor of Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church.
The setting provided for pastors, choirs, music directors, instrumentalists and lay persons to magnify the Lord through classical, sacred music, as well as traditional and contemporary, Gospel and the instrumental renderings.
It was the right conduit for carrying the Word and listening to songs interpreted by Ysis Praderes and the Flagler County choirs represented by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Hammock Community Church, Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, St. Thomas Episcopal Church and the First A.M.E. (First Church) Youth Choir.
The Youth Choir, conducted by Nathaniel Shropshire III, racked up raves. They sang “Kumbaya” and “Lift Up Your Heads O Ye Gates.”
Pastor Gillard S. Glover brought along the choir.
Question of unity
Pastor Glover set out to deliver the homily from a standpoint that’s basic, which is the need for unity in the church, and which was conveyed under the banner, “Working to be Worthy.”
Aligning his text with Ephesians 4:1-6, he said that to be worthy of the call to serve “a dead-and-dying world into a saving relationship with Christ, we must be unified.’’
“Tell me, church,” Pastor Glover asked, “What is this unity with which we are called?…
“It is a unity made possible only by our conversion… Sin divides a man within and against himself. It produces a constant fight within the individual and even within the church.”
No Godhead division
Pastor Glover affirmed that “Paul knew that one of the critical objectives of salvation was to reunite man to his true self so he might reflect the image and likeness of the Godhead that he had before the fall.
“You see,” the pastor related, “there is no division in the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are united within themselves. That’s why they can work together.
“Unity within the Body of Christ must be achieved amidst diversity,” declared the pastor.
He continued, “The Church at Ephesus was a church of both Jews and Gentiles who had accepted the Lordship of Jesus the Christ… The Church at Ephesus – as well as the church today – had to respect particularity in order to promote unity.
“You see, we do not all look alike…hail from the same country of origin…struggle with the same sin. We don’t all have the same political views, but we all have the same Father.
“We all have the same Savior. We all have been indwelled by the same spirit – that spirit makes us a new creation…not male, not female, not free, not slave, not Black, not Brown, not White, but rather a new creation made possible by the shed blood of Christ on the cross at Calvary.
“That new creation makes it possible for us to move beyond selfishness…self-indulgence…selfish concerns… self-interests, and work together,” he said.
The pastor continued, “Viewing ourselves as a new creation made possible by the shed blood of Christ enables us to do the work of the church.”
He further shared how God calls for Christians to feed the hungry.
“There’s so much hunger in this world today, which the united church, by itself, could eradicate if we would work together. … God does not want children in Flagler County to go hungry every night. Yet, the church allows this to happen because we are not united.
“Imagine the impact upon those little ones if a united church undertook the task of insuring that no child in Flagler County goes to bed unfed.”
Impact of outreach
Pastor Glover noted that the organizational talent, the needed resources, the distribution network are in the Body of Christ.
“Moreover, we’ve been called to go into the hedges and highways and bring people into a saving relationship with Christ,” the pastor said. “Imagine the impact on outreach when the unsaved sees this church fulfilling its call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and set the oppressed free!
“When we move beyond the bonds of individualism and work as a united body, we can achieve the essence of the Great Commission, which is bringing all men and women into the family of God,” rendered Pastor Glover. “We can’t do that seeing ourselves as separate individuals. We can only do that when we are united.’’
‘Operate in humility’
He shared that most of us are not humble – even after being converted.
“In fact, many of us are haughty; we think too much of ourselves…We value ourselves from the perspective of the culture, and not from the perspective of Christ, the pastor remarked.
“Jesus was born in a humble manger. He grew up in humble surroundings. He lived a humble life. It had a tremendous impact. We too must operate in humility in order to be worthy of our call,” he implored.
“We live in a culture that rewards brashness and harsh speech…that we have prerogatives, which we must protect at all costs even if it hurts others. Christian conduct should illustrate gentleness,” Pastor Glover added.
“In the sight of God, we have no rights. All of our rights were secured by grace for we are not our own. We have been bought with a price,” enumerated the pastor. “That price was the shed blood of Jesus the Christ – which was shed not only for you, but for me.
“So out of respect for that great sacrifice, we must be gentle with one another in order to be worthy of our call…Will you work to be worthy of your call?”
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.
Birthday wishes to Kionie Jordan, Feb. 2; Shirley Ruth, Feb. 3; Jacqualine Whyte, Alquon Hicks, Bernice Moore, and Chloe’ Malloy on the celebration of her Sweet 16 birthday, Feb. 5; and Margaret Young, Feb. 7.
Happy anniversary to Leonard and Vivian Rowe, Feb. 5.