Struggle of the black community emerges in celebratory sermon

Struggle of the black community emerges in celebratory sermon
January 21
00:00 2016
Photos by Timothy Ramsey
St. Paul’s Pastor Donald Jenkins welcomes everyone to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday night.

By Timothy Ramsey

For The Chronicle

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated by the Ministers’ Conference of Winston Salem and Vicinity at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

The celebration of Dr. King included guest speaker the Rev. Dr. Robert McGowens Sr. of Greater Galilee Baptist Church in Charlotte and Winston Salem; Bishop Todd L. Fulton, Ministers’ Conference of Winston Salem and Vicinity president; Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines; and the worship leader for the evening Rev. Omar L Dykes.

Joines reiterated the words of President Obama during the State of the Union address by saying that we need to reject any politics that target people because of race or religion, and not engage in any form of fear mongering.  He went on to say that he is committed to a “climate of transparency” and is working closely with the Ministers’ Conference and others to make progress. He said we still have a way to go, but wants to continue to move the community forward.

Following the mayor were Scripture readings, first by Rabbi Andrew Ettin of Temple Israel, Salisbury, then by Rev. Sarah Howell of Centenary United Methodist Church, both of whom cited scriptures that celebrated the principles of Dr. King, such as humility and peace.

The Ministers’ Conference also presented awards to Vernon Switzer for his humanitarian work throughout the community, and to Carl H. Russell Jr. as the Minority Business recipient from Russell Funeral Home Inc.

Prior to the sermon, Rev. Shannon L. Jessup gave an introduction for McGowens, who has been both her friend and mentor, and said that a friend is somebody you listen to, but a mentor is somebody whose advice you follow.

McGowens’ sermon centered on Dr. King and his parallels to Joseph, son of Jacob, and how both had to overcome hardships, jealousy and envy, as well as forgiveness to those who meant them harm.

McGowens also touched on the struggle of the black community, from police brutality to black-on black crime. He stressed the importance of being a person of purpose. Even though it may not be the easiest path and not everyone will assist you in your journey, stay the course and you can achieve your dream.

“What inspired me was my love and respect for Dr. King and what he stood for and the efforts that he put forth to bring about social justice and equality, not just for African-Americans, but for everyone. Even though the dream has not yet been fulfilled, we are still benefitting from the efforts he put forth and he passed the torch on to us,” said McGowens when asked what led him to write his inspirational sermon.

Jessup said, “Tonight’s event was the perfect capstone to all that has gone on all day. Pastor McGowens brought an awesome text, speaking about the dreamer and the dream itself, that it did not die, and no matter what’s going on in our world or however many pits we may fall into, that God is still raising us up, so I believe that things are well and in order. Although we may see some dark days, the best is yet to come.”


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