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By Kathy Barr



A small and spirited group gathered at the Greater Independent Baptist Church in Haskell on Monday, January 21 to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Elder W.M. Hodge welcomed the group by saying that King was a catalyst who made others want to help him to change the government. He reminded the audience that this work needs to be continued. Several people chose to speak during the part of the program that allowed audience {{more}} members to present their thoughts. Patricia Young, from Knox City said she was going to devote time to work with youth to teach them how to get along and work together to accomplish the dreams of King. She said that the youth have the brains, skills and technology needed to continue working on this vital task. Several ministers shared with the audience. Pastor Bruce Ray, who ministers with the Church of God said that Martin had a dream, but some of us have dropped the ball. “Where are the men like Martin who will march against gang violence, the war in our streets?” he asked. “Martin Luther King didn’t march so people could shoot each other and use crack cocaine.” Pastor Ron Rennegarbe from Trinity Lutheran Church described the turmoil of the 1960’s when he was a college student. Busloads of people, he said, went from Chicago to Selma and other cities in the south. Pastor Rennegarbe described the impact that the first two African-American students at his college had on him and other students. “Gladys and Goria Seymour read us the riot act, and told us what it was like,” he said. The Seymours had to deal with burning crosses in their yards. Thankfully, the pastor said, the Lord is changing things. “Sometimes, I wish it was a little faster,” he said. Pastor Morris Johnson, Cornerstone Baptist Church, said his first contact with an African-American student was when he and Herbert Seymour were given a locker to share in seventh grade. “Herbert taught me a lot,” Pastor Johnson said. Johnson was thrilled when Herbert accepted the Lord in high school. Pastor Johnson reminded the audience that we need to look to the interests of others and said that Scripture says we are not to do anything out of selfish ambition. Elder Hodge described his life when King was marching. “When Martin Luther King was marching, I was used to going in the back door and taking the lowest jobs,” he said. White people wouldn’t shake his hand; white ministers would speak at black churches, but black ministers were not welcome in the pulpits of white churches. He said that, unfortunately, things have not changed much. “I’ve got all blacks in my little church,” he said. “They have all whites in their little church.” What can be done? Elder Hodge said that we can keep the dream alive by keeping Jesus alive. Reverend James Anderson from Truevine Baptist Church said that at the time that King was alive, other ministers were telling him not to start trouble. Rev. Anderson said we are living in sad times – lost jobs, divorce, family strife, police brutality, black-on-black crime. He said there are one million blacks in jail. How can some of these problems be handled? “We need to represent Christ in our homes,” he said. He also said today’s youth need to know what King stood for. Richard Barr, with First Christian Church of Haskell, said that he recently learned about white privilege, the rights that whites have because of their skin color. Can anything be done by whites to deal with this privilege? “We need to wake up and get involved,” he said. “Satan causes problems, he is no respecter of persons.” He told the audience that we are all sons of God through faith. Other speakers included Rev. Collins, Rev. Johnson from St. Paul Church, Rev. Wade from West Beulah Community Church, Mae Lou Yeldell and her granddaughter, Brittany, and Ms. Jones. Paula Rennegarbe attended the service and briefly shared her feelings. “The dream begun has not been completed yet,” she said.

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