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Churches shine light on King's dream

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Gibbons: Death of dreamer did not extinguish MLK's mission

By Marty Finley

Quoting from the book of Genesis, the Rev. Michael Gibbons drew parallels between the life of Joseph and the mission of Martin Luther King Jr.

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In both cases, he said, the men were cast as dreamers and gained enemies for sharing those dreams with the world.

Biblical scriptures teach that Joseph’s brothers plotted his death before selling him into slavery, viewing his dreams as a threat. King’s dream, meanwhile, helped usher in the civil rights movement to grant equal rights for blacks and minorities before he was slain by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tenn.

“If you kill the dreamer, then you could kill the dream,” said Gibbons, senior pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church.

Gibbons served as guest

speaker Monday morning for the Beloved Community Service to honor King at Embry Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Skyline Drive in Elizabethtown. The service was held in conjunction with Memorial United Methodist and featured hymns and songs of worship from both congregations.

Gibbons said he has a poster hanging in his study to remind him of the past, a stark image of segregated facilities, so he can navigate his own future.

The scourge of segregation has been removed and “ugly signs” depicting bigotry and hatred have been torn down, but Gibbons said King’s work is far from finished.

“Things are not as bad as they used to be, but things are not where they ought to be,” the minister said to the crowd, many of whom yelled out encouragement and clapped their hands during the sermon.

Gibbons argued King “caught God’s dream” by promoting peaceful harmony between humanity and God.

“His intention was never to pit one race against another,” Gibbons said.

Instead, his goal was to improve the dialog in America to the point where race never would be considered a factor when describing human relations because there is only one race: the human race.

Until killings stop and abuse ends, King’s dream will not be fully fulfilled, he said.

Gibbons said King recognized his dream would be not realized during his lifetime, which is why he recruited so many passionate people to march with him to ensure his work would continue. Gibbons said the work now falls on the present generation to show God’s love and live King’s message.

Recalling a story, Gibbons told the congregation about a young girl devastated by the death of her pet turtle. Her father attempted to comfort her and offered to hold a funeral for the turtle, which he described as a birthday party with cake and ice cream to celebrate the turtle’s life.

Elated by the thought of a party, the girl’s tears evaporated. Around that time, life returned to the turtle and it began to move, Gibbons said. However, the girl desired a party to the point she was willing to kill the turtle.

Likewise, he said, standing for truth is often done in flights of fancy.

“Too many people value life when life does not (interfere) in them getting what they want,” he said.

In celebrating King’s life, the church described him as an advocate for peace and non-violence whose work still inspires.

The Rev. Nigal D. Felder, pastor of Embry Chapel AME, said he always refers to King as a reverend first and foremost. His higher education notwithstanding, King’s social message and the context it held was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation, he said.

Felder encouraged the audience, representing different ethnicities and races, to embrace one another with hugs. At one point during the service, Felder asked each individual to squeeze his or her neighbor’s hand as a way to remind them of God’s love and protection.

A special offering also was held, the proceeds of which will be used to impact the community. Felder said Embry Chapel will discuss the offering with Memorial United Methodist to determine a worthy cause.

He said the money “will be used for something intentional in the community.” 

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.