Thursday evening marked the beginning of the weekend long celebration of the commemorative celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. With Audra Carter presiding, the festivities began at Greater Union Baptist Church kicking off the celebration with a Musical with various participating groups including First Baptist Church of Ferry Pass Praise Dancers, Florida/Bama Four Winds Male Group, The Faithful Few/Sonshine Music, City-Wide Revival Choir and the Greater Union Baptist Praise Team.
Saturday morning brought approximately 500+ people to The Wright Place for the annual Commemorative Prayer Breakfast.
Beginning with Rev. Paul A. Blackmon, Sr, Pastor of First Baptist
Church of Ferry Pass, presiding, Sister Sabrina L. Lett led the crowd in singing the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing’ followed by Sister Elizabeth Lee giving the Memorial Moment.
The breakfast celebration would not be complete unless there was a reciting of Martin Luther King Jr’s last speech. And Elder R.A. Duffie, Pastor of All About Jesus Ministry accommodated listeners with a well delivered version.
As breakfast was being served, greetings were delivered by many of the City’s dignitaries. Among the speakers, Sheriff David Morgan graced the audience with a brief soulful rendition of “Change Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.
While guests enjoyed a filling breakfast of bacon, sausage, grits, eggs, orange juice and coffee keynote speaker for the occasion was Rev. Dr. Michael Johnson, Sr., Pastor of Sixth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church.
He began “My message today is about The Now and The Next. It would be so easy to talk united for this single moment and leave and go back to our sectarian living. You go back to your side or town and I go back to mine. I believe that this is a Tiroux moment of God where the impossible become possible and the season is ripe for cooperative efforts that any other time would not work. My message to you today is to work together to build a better community.
In order to do it, we must do three things: We will need to take ownership in our entire community. We will need to understand that our future prosperity is linked together. And we will need to learn how to pray for it. In our text Jeremiah the prophet writes to the people of Israel who now lived in
Babylon to take ownership of where you are. We know the sentimentality of the people of Israel by the words they say in Psalms 137; in a strange land.
It is during this time of resentment and anger that Jeremiah gives this word of unified destiny. Jeremiah tells them to take ownership in their community.
Today I want to challenge everyone here to do the same. If we are to build a better community, we must clear and claim all of the community, The prophet tells the people that are now hurt and abused to trust their abusers, to show how hard it is of the request coming from the Almighty, think of going to Congress and asking all of the Democrats and Republicans to agree on something. I don’t think you would get it. Pastor Johnson went on to talk about his experience of being in college (Florida State )and being taught to hate the Florida Gators. “Only one game mattered during the season, that was the game where we beat the Gators,” he said. “One day my advisor came to town for a session with me. His son played for the Florida Gators. They suggested we go to the Gators in Tallahassee and then come to Pensacola and I agreed. He said that he would take care of things. This Seminole was a guest of the Florida Gators. I had to sit with the Gators; I had to join in with the Gators cheer and had to act like I wanted the Gators to win. This Seminole had to learn in a hurry to like the Gators. What I learned was that I could cheer for the Gators and Seminoles and the world would not end.
“We will never build a better community if we are divided with different intentions. We must take ownership of the entire community. As long as we focus on what divides us we will never build a community full of hope for our children. I know the world seems more divided than ever; young versus old, rich versus poor, Democrats versus Republican, conservatives versus liberals. It may seem that the world is at its worst. But what I have learned about God is that when man is at his worst, God is at his best. These are the times when God challenges us to rise up to our best. We may have different opinions and ideologies but we are all in the same boat now. If an accident happens on the west side, insurance goes up all over. We must work together to build a better community. You may not have voted for our leaders but this is who God has put into office at this time. They need us and we need them to make this a better future for our children.” Nobody here benefits from our community that becomes crime ridden and economically depressed. Every benefits when we work together. When one goes down, we all go down.”