[Photo: A Unity March through downtown Raeford this Monday also honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Catharin Shepard photo)
By Catharin Shepard • Editor • The Rev. Stackhouse of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Hoke County had one word to sum up what the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day service was all about.
“We’re here all about change. We come to celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His life in a word, change,” he said. “In one of his most prolific speeches, he said, be the change you want to see.”
Lewis Chapel Church in Hoke County served as the location of the yearly service this Sunday to mark the late civil rights leader’s birthday. Members of the church and community joined guest speakers to honor the day.
Hoke County Commissioner Harry Southerland served as celebration leader. This year would have marked King’s 94th birthday, he noted.
“I often wonder what would Dr. King say if he were still here, 94 years old. I think he would look around and say, we had some good days and some bad days,” Southerland said. “I think he would say that he saw that in 2008 we were able to elect the first African-American president. I think he would say we went on in 2020 to be able to elect the first African-American vice president. But I think he would tell us again that we’ve still got some challenges ahead.”
There are many issues that have to be faced, the commissioner said. He pointed to gun violence in the community, with shootings and drive-by shootings at residences taking place in Hoke County.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Southerland said.
Pastor Trent Haywood of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Raeford offered remarks and a scripture reading during the service, saying King’s legacy encompassed freedom, fellowship and faith.
“The life and legacy of Dr. King is that of, in my estimation at least three things. Number one, freedom. Equality for all human beings regardless of background, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of any socio-economic status. Understanding what the theologists would call ‘the image of God,’ we are all equally made in God’s image,” Haywood said. “Dr. King fought for that. He fought for freedom. Number two, he fought for fellowship among brothers and sisters, yes of diverse backgrounds but in the spirit of unity within diversity. And finally faith in the one true king, the one who sets us all free.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Anthony Coleman offered prayer and reflections on King’s work, writings and life. He spoke on the idea of “working while I’m waiting on my next set of wings.” Coleman was the youngest of 15 children in his family.
“Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded me of my daddy. Soft-spoken, but said what he meant, and meant what he said,” Coleman said. “As a youngster I heard folks talk about how Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to fight to raise Black folks from the prevailing social mire of segregation to an elevated platform called equality. Then, somebody killed the dreamer, thinking that killing the dreamer would kill the dream and the truth that he preached.
“What the perpetrator failed to recognize was that the origin of Martin’s messages was not from the books he authorized, but from the 66 books (God) authored.”
The Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church King’s Men choir of Fayetteville offered music during the celebration. The congregation joined together for “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
The service is available to watch on the church’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.