Voices come together at Pa. King service

January 16, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH


Together they sang "a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us ... full of the hope that the present has brought us."

The voices came from black, white, male, female, young, old, rich and poor.

The notes joined together in the unison Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned, and the resulting harmony rose from the pews at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Chambersburg, Pa.

The nearly 200 people gathered at the church memorialized King and celebrated his legacy Sunday.

"We have to raise our voices together and stand before our country ... proclaiming the liberty, freedom and peace that the good doctor (taught)," said the Rev. Manny Diaz of Chambersburg Church of the Brethren.


The 27th annual service for King brought together clergy from a number of area churches.

Much of the focus was on King's comment that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." That remark was written in a letter while King was jailed in Birmingham, Ala., according to Diaz.

In his prayer, the Rev. Dr. Rondo Na'el, of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chambersburg, called to God to bring a day when "men, women and children fail any longer to see what separates us."

Sunday's memorial service also was a forum to recognize youngsters who wrote essays answering five questions developed by Shippensburg (Pa.) University students. Each question focused on King's historical and lasting impacts.

Top honors went to Lily Nolan from Scotland Elementary School, McKenzie Johnson from Falling Spring Elementary School, Joshua McLucas from Chambersburg Area Middle School, Charlie Miller from Faust Junior High School and Clifton Davis from Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

They were chosen from 400 participants in all Chambersburg Area School District schools, according to Yvonne Taylor, administrator of the essay program.

"Prejudice is formed in people by the role models they witness. I will try to be a light in this world," wrote Miller in his essay.

"Our voice, ideas and minds are terrible things to waste. Apply yourself passionately and never, ever give up," said Davis, describing how he would encourage classmates to stand up for their beliefs.

The Rev. Dr. William Harter of Falling Spring Presbyterian Church, Chambersburg, said people today have a responsibility to fulfill King's vision, which was formed through faith, courage and hope.

"These are the things that continue to speak to me about Dr. King," said Harter.

The memorial service also featured a dramatic presentation of music, dance and monologues by Harambee United Church of Christ Prophetic Arts Ministry from Harrisburg, Pa.

The presentation chronicled the triumphs and woes of black people from their roots as educated villagers in Africa to slaves to activists for equality.

The Antrim Brethren in Christ Church choir provided music for King's memorial service, leading hymns like "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "We Shall Overcome."

An offering was taken for Chambersburg Community Improvement Association, a group that tutors at-risk youth.

King continues to "help us realize and rectify many of the flaws that tarnish the name of America," said Terri Johnson, vice president of CCIA.

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