To The Editor,
On Sunday, Jan. 10, the First Baptist Church held its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program. The theme for the program this year was, “Justice Deferred, Is Justice Denied.” Twenty years ago, the people of the First Baptist began putting on the annual program, which celebrates and honors the life of Dr King and the principles he espoused. I have been blessed to attend several of these events in the past, and they have always been very special. This one was no exception.
The program began with a welcome and a prayer from Rev. Sharon Holt, pastor of First Baptist. Her warm greeting and prayer were echoed by her surroundings. The beautiful, bright church sanctuary, still decorated with a lovely Christmas tree, Nativity, star, and poinsettias provided a very welcoming atmosphere.
Rev. Holt introduced Rev. David Strosahl, who spoke about the history of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr Program at the church. Rev. Strosahl, a former pastor of the church, recounted that the program dates back to a time when a group from church attended a program in another town. On the return trip, the discussion focused on the possibility of bringing such a program to First Baptist. From that discussion, a great tradition was born. Rev. Strosahl was a great choice for this portion of the program. Not only because of his part in its inception, but for his skill as a speaker. He is an orator in the tradition and style of Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking with power and eloquence. And, yes, relevence.
Woven throughout the program were selections of music from a group called Nzinga’s Daughters whose ministry of music carries them around the world. They were colorfully attired and their spirit and enthusiasm were contagious. Their musical presentation was a moving and fitting tribute to Dr King. And the audience was invited to participate, which I always love!
The guest speaker was the Rev. Ralph Lord Roy, a Freedom Rider in the ‘60s, protesting the injustice of the laws that forced racial segregation on public buses. In his account, he spoke of meeting and protesting alongside Dr. King and the many, many courageous people who fought against injustice. They were subjected to threats, humiliation, violence, and murder. Dr. King, Dr.Roy and countless others fought this battle. Some are remembered by history and others are known only to God and to their loved ones. And the battle continues. To all who fought and still fight, my deepest and most profound respect goes to all. It is courageous and heroic beyond anything I can grasp within the scope of my experience.
Following Rev. Roy’s presentation, Martin Luther King Day awards were presented to Jenna Sheehan from John F. Kennedy Middle School and Matthew Biscoglio from Depaolo Middle School. These two young people were given awards because they their lives in a way that embodies the principles of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jenna spoke first, relating an account of an experience she recently had. While in school, she witnessed mistreatment of two fellow students who happen to have disabilities. Rather than sit back and let it continue, Jenna courageously confronted this injustice, standing up for her fellow students. With great humility, she said it was small compared to Dr King’s accomplishments.
On the contrary, it was in line with the following quote of his: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.” Thank you, Jenna for bringing you light and love to your world. Keep up the great work.
Matthew spoke next and talked about his involvement in Unified Sports, defined as, “dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. He dedicates himself to making sure kids have an equal chance to experience the teamwork, fun, camaraderie and friendship of sports.
Dr. King said,”Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ “Clearly, this humble young man answers that question with his caring and compassionate actions. We’ll done, Matthew.
To both Jenna and Matthew, keep making a difference to the world around you. Your families, friends, schools and community need you and are proud of you.
Rev. Holt closed the program with prayer followed by refreshments in the church fellowship hall. A very nice conclusion to a program that celebrated and honored the life of principles of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
So, today when you look at the world and see unrest, injustice, and violence, as we all can just looking at the news, try this: refocus on the vision and hope set out by Dr. King in the quote from earlier in this letter: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
His life demonstrated that nonviolence and that light. As he clearly pointed us to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. He is the only hope that does not dissapoint. The Light that NEVER fades. The One to Whom all injustice must bow!!!
In closing, thanks to all who worked so hard to bring this program to us all. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. And to anyone who missed it this year: put it on your calendar for next year. I know I will.
Trish Griffin, Southington