WARWICK – Normally members of the Warwick Union African Methodist Episcopal Church (UAME) and other guests would celebrate Martin Luther King Day in their church at 98 McEwen Street.
In previous years the church building was often filled to capacity as people gathered to honor the memory of Dr. King, the famous civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner who was assassinated in 1968.
However, this year, still in the midst of the pandemic, a crowded church would not be permissible or prudent.
And so, like many other gatherings, the UAME Church opted to host another virtual celebration on Monday, January 17.
The service began with a music video of the song, “Ain’t gonna let nobody,” performed by the Howard Gospel Choir followed by the traditional recitation of the Call to Justice and Community.
Then came another music video, “Lift every Voice and Sing,” by Wintley Phipps.
Rev. Jennifer Morrow, pastor of Warwick’s United Methodist Church, gave the invocation.
“Let the remembrance and the words of this day not end with this day,” she said.
Channabel Morris Lathem, who had emailed the invitations with the link and password, welcomed everyone, including honored guests, who each had an opportunity to offer brief remarks on the holiday’s significance.
She challenged the audience on this year’s theme honoring the civil rights leader: “It Starts with Me: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community,” and then asked each person present to ask themselves, “Am I making a shift to create the community?”
Guest speakers included New York State Senator Michael Martucci, Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton, Mayor Michael Newhard, Justice Peter Barlett, Cedric Glasper, former UAME Pastor Ronald Ivey, Rabbi Shinder of Temple Beth Shalom, Beverly Braxton and Patricia McMillan.
Referring to Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement that only light can lead us out of darkness, Mayor Newhard, said “Dr. King left us all a gift, a moral compass to lead us out of darkness.”
The preacher this year was Union AME Pastor Rev. Dr. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison Posey.
“The moral compass of our country,” she said, “is still broken.”
The service concluded with a video presentation and singing of, “We Shall Overcome.”
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