01/18/10 — Mount Olive churches remember Dr. King

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Mount Olive churches remember Dr. King

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 18, 2010 1:53 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- More than 100 people gathered Sunday at the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church to honor the work and legacy of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Mount Olive Carver Alumni Association and Friends sponsored the community gathering, which is held annually in different Mount Olive churches. The group seeks to be a part of the Wayne County community through outreach efforts, Master of Ceremonies Dr. Linda Worrell Deans, vice president of the Mount Olive chapter of the Carver Alumni and Friends, said during her opening remarks.

"We are here as a service organization for the community," she said.

Wayne County Board of Education member Shirley Faison Sims was one of several local government officials who attended the event, including state Sen. Don Davis, Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald and Wayne County and Mount Olive town board commissioners.

"We feel welcome here, and we hope you feel welcomed here with us," Ms. Sims said.

Lynn Williams, a member of the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church, spoke on behalf of the church to present the official greeting.

"We are all glad that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are here together," she said.

Special guest and keynote speaker Goldsboro Mayor Alfonzo King, a Mount Olive native, choked up as he spoke about King's message of service to others, and the dire situation in Haiti following last week's 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

"I am a humanitarian, and I'm proud of it. Every day of the remaining part of my life ... I will dedicate my efforts to helping people who can't help themselves," he said.

The mayor also spoke to the assembly about the last days of King's life before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

"That was probably the most turbulent year in his life, because his own lieutenants began questioning his non-violent philosophy," King said.

The civil rights movement leader's path took him to Memphis in order to help sanitation workers on strike, but the situation forced him to step back and reassert that philosophy of non-violence among his supporters, King said.

"He believed it so strongly that people who were around him respected him and remained non-violent," he said.

It was that commitment to non-violence and dedication to helping the poor that defined the late leader's legacy, King said.

"Dr. King, and the things he has done, he has changed this world. There is no question, not just the United States but this world," he said.

The service itself was an example of what the Rev. Dr. King dreamed of for the future, King said. The mayor called on the crowd to live that legacy by reaching out to provide assistance to those in need.

"I challenge all of you to do something to support and help people who can't help themselves. That is what Rev. King, Dr. King would want us to do," King said.

National Carver Alumni Association and Friends President Al Southerland, who attended the event, said he was glad to see so many people at the service.

"It's wonderful to see our community come together and celebrate what Dr. King is all about," he said.

The Rev. Louise Hunter Lee, chaplain of the Mount Olive Chapter of the Carver Alumni Association and Friends, presented the scripture reading. Delores H. Kennedy, program committee chairwoman, recognized local officials. Donald Faison gave remarks to introduce the keynote speaker. The Rev. Stephen Wicks of Mount Olive Presbyterian offered prayers for the service.

Music for the event was provided by the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church choir and several soloists. The service also took a collection for the Carver Alumni Association and Friends Scholarship Fund.