By Terry Rogers
On Monday, January 19, the Milford/Lincoln Ministerial Association held a service entitled “Service for Healing, Wholeness & Celebration in Honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” The service was designed to promote unity and cooperation in the community within an ecumenical setting.
“This is an opportunity to pause for a moment in a world so very busy and to think about one another,” said Reverend Tom Pasmore, pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church. “It is a time to remember things good and bad that have happened and to reconcile ourselves to working together in order to build a strong community.”
The service began with the Avenue Youth Praise Band singing “Washed by the Water” as people entered the event. After a welcoming prayer, the St. Paul Steppers, a group of young interpretive dancers, performed to a gospel song and several local clergy read scriptures. The clergy members included Reverend Stephen Carter, Pastor Richie Portalatin, Brother Maurice Daniels, Minister Bryan Rice and Reverend Jean Wylie. Reverend Wylie is also the president of the local NAACP chapter.
Pastor Judy Adams then led the congregation in the Litany of the People before Reverend Pasmore encouraged everyone in the audience to take a few moments and greet their neighbors. Those in attendance shook hands with the people around them while many walked throughout the room greeting stranger and friends alike.
“There is a need for reconciliation in this world,” said Reverend Dr. Jeanel Starling, pastor of the St. Paul United Methodist Church, during the Words of Reconciliation. “It is important to emphasize the need for global and community healing. We need a healing of relationships not only between races but also with the earth.” Dr. Starling pointed out that our society looks at everything with such suspicion, the United States has turned into one of the most “litigious societies in the world.”
Dr. Starling said that racial tension that Dr. King strived to eliminate is reemerging, pointing out that the citizens were living in a world that was growing increasingly out of control and fractured. She also pointed out that even among Christians, there is disagreement. Dr. Starling said that it is important to accept the differences among people rather than scrutinizing them and pointing out what is wrong with those differences.
“When I see you, I will speak to you,” Dr. Starling said. “I will not size you up or down. I will see you as a person and not lump you into a box, saying that you are just like your other people. I hope that after this, you will do the same.”
Reverend Donna Bowers of the First Presbyterian Church, pointed out that there is no place for racism in today’s society. She said that, instead, it is important to pray for those in the community who were facing hardships, regardless of their background. “We must pray for our new hospital and for those who will be unable to walk to the new location to visit loved ones,” Dr. Bowers said. “We must pray for our police and fire fighters who endanger their lives on a daily basis to keep us safe. We must ask God to open our eyes to the hopes and dreams of everyone.”
Rev. Bowers said that too many people worship from a place of safety and complacency, when, in fact, worship should wake people up to God and encourage them to provide for the poor and oppressed. She explained that the service in honor of Dr. King was to allow people of all colors to come together and celebrate their diversity as they learned to worship and practice together.
The Avenue Youth Praise Band performed the song “Hold Us Together” and excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech were read. An offering was taken to benefit the Martin Luther King Scholarship program, available to any graduating Milford High School senior. For more information on the Martin Luther King scholarship, students are encouraged to contact Reverend Paul Isaacs at Calvary United Methodist Church for application information.
The Angels in Praise Dancers from Kingdom Worship Ministries performed an interpretive dance as well. After the congregation sang “We Shall Overcome,” Rev. Pasmore encouraged those in attendance to be in service to one another. “Dr. King asked ‘What are you doing for others?’,” Rev. Pasmore said. “There are so many ways for you to be in service to others, ways for you to be involved in order to help others in our community.”