On Monday, instead of walking from the courthouse west either to Bethlehem Baptist or Jones Chapel United Methodist churches, the marchers will instead head north to the First United Methodist Church, 106 E. Cleveland St.
“We will never be able to overcome until we break out of the tradition of being at the black church,” said the Rev. Eric Tarver, Bethlehem Baptist pastor.
The Rev. Larry McRorey, pastor of FUMC, agreed, saying the framework was set in motion in 2010 when he suggested to Tarver that if the members of this community are truly going to “overcome,” this celebration needs to be ecumenical – involving all races and more denominations.
Two years later, organizers are excited about the change and preparing to host a large crowd, including an invitation to a wonderful meal after the service concludes.
“It’s time for a change,” said the Rev. Bettye Whiteside, pastor at Jones Chapel. “We’re all one big family.”
A cross section of community members, usually including the A.C. Jones Trojan Band and numerous politicians, will assemble at the courthouse square at 10:30 a.m. and, following some brief remarks, will march three blocks down St. Mary’s Street to the church for the worship and celebration.
Guest speaker will be the Rev. Howard E. Mims, a gospel preacher and retired ordained elder who has earned numerous awards. He is presently the pastor of William Taylor United Methodist Church in Luling.
“We share the same God, but we only get together once a year and when there are tragedies,” Tarver said.
“The Martin Luther King parade isn’t just for black people. It is for anyone who believes in unification,” he added.
Those who are preparing to enjoy the MLK holiday, either from school or work, are encouraged to attend and remember Dr. King’s message of freedom and equality.
Although we’ve come a long way as a nation, there’s still more we can accomplish to show love and compassion to all our brothers and sisters.
– Chip Latcham