Tuesday, January 21, 2014

King service shows his 'Dream' is realized in Midway

Story and photographs by Darius Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Dream” has become a reality.

There was a full chapel Monday night for the King birthday service at St. Matthew's AME Church in Midway. More than 50 people came ready for worship, and to celebrate the life and achievements of the late civil rights activist.

The African Methodist Episcopal church was filled with a very diverse crowd, as the pews filled with African-American and Caucasian attendees, all sharing hugs, laughs and smiles together as old friends and a community.

“I love the diversity,” LaRon Raglin, a St. Matthew's church member, said in an interview. “It’s what you want to see out here; it’s beautiful.”

Race relations in Midway have “always been pretty good,” said Rev. Dr. Shelia Harris, church leader and an organizers of the event. “When you have that cross-mix in the community and in the churches, you’ll find that the relationship is better.”

Organized by the Midway Ministerial Association, the annual event rotates among the African American churches in the Midway area. The eight churches have performed this service for about 10 years between .

This year’s service lasted just over an hour, and had powerful messages with scripture that King preached. Judy Stallons, pastor of Midway United Methodist Church, read from Matthew 5:43-48, in which Jesus says to love your enemies. The scripture from the Sermon on the Mount fit well after the prayer and opening song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

The musical selection was done by the Johnsons, a family of singers who grew up in the church. “I’ve been preaching for 48 years, and I’ve been singing for 25 years with my family,” the Rev. Don Johnson said in an interview. He also enjoys the atmosphere that the church offers. “I come here because the spirit is here,” he said. “I’m able to exercise my gifts.”

A group of children and adults performed a skit about how different life was for African Americans during the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation, and the importance of the Civil Rights Movement. The play was placed in a school setting, which also used flashbacks to the 1960s as a visual theater piece.

“We wanted to do something different,” Harris said in an interview. “Everybody always has speeches, or sermons, or musicals … so what we wanted to do to get children involved was to do a reading play.” She said the play was fun, helped improve the children’s reading skills, and emphasized the educational value of the struggles faced by African Americans in the past.

“We’ve always had good race relations in Midway, even though the schools were segregated,” Midway City Council Member Aaron Hamilton, 64, said in an interview. “My playmates were white, but we never really paid any attention to it ... we all just played together.”

The service closed by the congregation singing “We Shall Overcome,” and after the benediction, the diverse crowd got even closer by eating food and enjoying each other’s company. The event exemplified the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., who envisioned the rights of all human beings, and for equality for people of all races and nationalities.

1 comment:

Susie Bates said...

Congratulations to St. Matthews and the Midway community for coming together to remember Dr. King!