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St. James and First United Methodist celebrate third joint gathering to honor Dr. King holiday

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

First United Methodist Minister Ed White

First United Methodist Minister Ed White


MLK Amazing Grace songThe third gathering of St. James CME Church and First United Methodist Church to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marked the first for new FUMC Minister Ed. White.

The annual started in 2011 under the direction of St. James Minister W. Otis Higgs Jr. and then FUMC Minister Dr. Ken Uselton.

Uselton retired from his post after nearly two decades last summer. White was one of many representatives from First United Methodist on hand at St. James CME Church on King Day 2013.

The two churches alternate the site each year bringing together the ministers, choirs and members in the sanctuary for a day of worship, reflection and celebration in honor of the late Civil Rights leader.

King was assassinated almost 45 years ago in Memphis assisting the sanitation workers in gaining better working conditions. King, an Atlanta native, traveled across the United States speaking, marching and organizing for equality for all.

With that in mind, the churches came together with the theme of “The Man in the Mirror.” A popular song in the 1980s by the late pop artist Michael Jackson, the theme got biblical support from James 1:23-24.

The children of St. James performed a spiritual dance routine to the song Man in the Mirror. Sounds also echoed among the crowd from the choirs singing songs like Amazing Grace.

The other sounds coming from the pulpit were speakers like Pastor Steve Miller of Northstar Community Church in Memphis and Elder Ore Spragin.

Then it was time for White to approach the microphone after a spirit-filled remediation of Amazing Grace by Charity Maughmer.

White followed her solo with a prayer and then his message. White also had the honor of presenting the 2013 Brotherhood Award to Millington Alderman Thomas McGhee.

McGhee became the first African American elected official in Millington’s history last August. The new Alderman said the city he has adopted and grown to love is showing positive signs of progress the last few years toward King’s Dream.

It was nearly 50 years ago in Washington D.C., King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. That August day in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King spoke of a America that would one day have all creeds, colors and people of different religious backgrounds genuinely getting along.

The latest King Day coincided with the nation’s 44th President Barack Obama being sworn in for his second term. Obama was born to an African father and white mother from Kansas. In 2008, Obama’s election made him the nation’s first president as a man of color.

With that event serving as a backdrop, Miller gave his remarks to the audience about the state of The Dream.

“We must ask the question, are we there yet?,” he said. “Today I propose to you today that the Dream has not yet been fulfilled. But it is in progress. And we have the privilege of bringing the dream to fruition. I believe we will succeed in fulfilling the Dream.

“ I believe if we can take a disturbed youth from taking an atomic weapon and killing their fellow students,” Miller added. “I believe we will succeed if we can convince our young girls and young boys to wait until marriage before starting their families. I believe today we can succeed if we can interest some young man into a career in the military rather than to join a gang because he feels like he doesn’t have a place where he belongs.

“I really believe we really could succeed if we put down our personal agendas and learn to love God with all of our hearts, all of our soul and all of our mind,” he concluded. “We will succeed when we refuse to join our neighbors by the color of their skin, the texture of their hair, their tax bracket or the zip code in which they reside.”

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January 2013
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