01/12/06 — Speaker at King event urges women to get more involved

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Speaker at King event urges women to get more involved

By Turner Walston
Published in News on January 12, 2006 1:47 PM

Women need to realize their role in the church and community is vital, said a speaker at a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial service Wednesday night.

The Rev. Dr. Mazie Ferguson was the featured speaker as members of the congregations at Greenleaf Christian Church and New Spirit Ministries held an "old-fashioned mass meeting" at the latter.

Mrs. Ferguson is the founder of Liberation Baptist Church in Greensboro. She is a great-niece of Mary McLeod Bethune, a pioneering civil rights activist.

Rev. Dr. Mazie Ferguson

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

The Rev. Dr. Mazie Ferguson speaks at an "old-fashioned mass meeting" at New Spirit Ministries Wednesday night. Dr. Ferguson is the North Carolina NAACP religious affairs director. Her speech was part of a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial service.

She noted the influence that the women in his family had on King, especially his great-grandmother. She said women need to step up and become more involved in the affairs of both their church and their community. The result will be a stronger church and a stronger community, she said.

"We have a tendency in our society for us to only use 50 percent of our power," Mrs. Ferguson said. Men and women should be "sitting together in the circle of power, making decisions together."

She said women's involvement in the church is important. People who truly understand God's nurturing nature understand that women have a special role to fill in his world.

"If we do not include the women, we will miss the nurturing arm of the movement," she said.

Mrs. Ferguson cited the work of both men and women in building the civil rights movement. People from every level of society joined to bridge cultural gaps, she said, noting the differences between the backgrounds of Dr. King and Rosa Parks.

"Who would have said that a little seamstress and a Ph.D.. would have gotten together to change the world?" Ferguson asked. "Like Jesus and the woman at the well, Martin heard the cry of Rosa Parks," Ferguson said. "The world heard her cry."

Ferguson warned those attending the service not to allow others to lead them to develop a false sense of superiority.

"There is nothing worse than having someone in power tell you 'You're not like those other ones,'" she said.

She described the battle 30 years ago to convince the government to allow blacks to work as social service officers. When the law finally changed, she said, the emotional release was overwhelming.

"We had taught them everything but compassion for their brothers and sisters," she said.

Ferguson compared the racial differences in the U.S. to those in Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

"Oppression creates an environment where those who are at the bottom are turning on each other," she said. "People who are discriminated against in a society turn on each other and themselves."

She urged blacks to work together to create change. Anyone can help bring about meaningful change, she said.

"When oppression is great, God sends a spark, just like that," she said. "When the world is ignited, change takes place."