King remembered locally


By Paule Simone Brown - Contributing writer



St. John Missionary Baptist Church Vessels of Praise from Springfield participated in the celebration on Sunday evening in Urbana.

St. John Missionary Baptist Church Vessels of Praise from Springfield participated in the celebration on Sunday evening in Urbana.


Photo by Paule Simone Brown

Urbana Mayor Bill Bean speaks during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana.


Photo by Paule Simone Brown

Thomas White participates in the Unity Candle Lighting Prayer during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana.


Photo by Paule Simone Brown

On Sunday night, the Jerusalem Second Baptist Church in Urbana was alive with great speakers, testimony, music, praise, worship, beautiful dance, and a special candlelight unity prayer to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

In the church, more than 100 people from all walks of life gathered to listen to the legacy of Dr. King and be inspired to continue to work together as one in the community.

Mike McKenzie, pastor of the Urbana Church of the Nazarene and the president of the Champaign County Ministerial Alliance, gave the welcome, highlighting the evening’s program and then introduced Rev. Carl Vactor from Urbana. Vactor said: “God is no respecter of persons, which means that everyone has the chance to receive the blessings available through salvation.” Vactor then added: “We are celebrating tonight because we are all deserving of God’s love and promises and Dr. King had that message for all of us throughout his life.”

At the time of Dr. King’s civil rights movement for equality for all, singer Ray Charles provided financial support for Dr. King’s cause. Additionally, Charles refused to play in segregated concerts in his native state in Georgia during those years.

As part of the tribute to the legacy of Ray Charles, Kim Gordon Brooks of St. Paul AME Urbana Church introduced Dr. John Freeman, Pastor of “U.R. The Church” in Xenia, who played the piano while he sang “Georgia,” one of Charles’ most famous songs.

Bill Bean, the mayor of Urbana, ascended to the podium and promised he will continue to work together to produce jobs and achieve great success for all families. In his remarks, he also noted that the community has come together and has become much more united, and that we should be proud of the wonderful things we have achieved because of the people of Urbana.

Next, in his keynote address, Rev. Eli Williams, President of Urban Light Ministries in Springfield, Ohio, talked about God’s desire for unity and how Jesus paid a high price for harmony in the world. He said: “Jesus laid down his life for us and he requires from us to sacrifice and lay down our lives and our ideas so we can love others even if they are from another race, nationality or political party.” He added: “It is hard work. Roll up your sleeves, you must be intentional about this brotherly love thing. It means creating opportunities to be together regularly. It is time for us to create opportunities for brothers and sisters to do life together. It is challenging. I do not do it perfectly but I am working diligently at it. Love one another. “

A praise dance to God was performed by the praise team from St. John Missionary Baptist Church “Vessels of Praise” from Springfield following Rev. Williams’ message. A number of song selections were performed by choir members from several local churches. A drum tribute to Dr. King was performed by The Legacy Troupe during a video presentation and members of the congregation were reminded to thank God for all they have and all those who have helped them.

With “You Matter” T-shirts on, Seth Murdock, Brandon Ford Jr., Nic Keller and Josh McGee had everyone captivated and on the edge of their seats.

This was the first year the Jerusalem Second Baptist Church has hosted an MLK service. Its Sr. Pastor Michael Freeman reflected after the commemoration: “Sunday night is what we envisioned for this event. Faith in God stood at center stage. Every person who participated played a role in getting our message of acknowledging the truth of ‘yesterday,’ and recognizing the progress of today and working towards a better tomorrow.“

St. John Missionary Baptist Church Vessels of Praise from Springfield participated in the celebration on Sunday evening in Urbana.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2023/01/web1_St.-John-Missionary-Baptist-Church-Vessels-of-Praise.-from-Springfield.jpgSt. John Missionary Baptist Church Vessels of Praise from Springfield participated in the celebration on Sunday evening in Urbana. Photo by Paule Simone Brown

Urbana Mayor Bill Bean speaks during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2023/01/web1_bean.jpgUrbana Mayor Bill Bean speaks during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana. Photo by Paule Simone Brown

Thomas White participates in the Unity Candle Lighting Prayer during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2023/01/web1_Thomas-White.-Unity-Candle-Lighting-Prayer.jpgThomas White participates in the Unity Candle Lighting Prayer during Sunday evening’s King celebration in Urbana. Photo by Paule Simone Brown

By Paule Simone Brown

Contributing writer

Reach the writer at [email protected]

Reach the writer at [email protected]