The pastor told his audience to honor King's dream by mobilizing for change.
YOUNGSTOWN -- In the middle of a Martin Luther King Jr. worship service Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people were asked to link arms as they sang "We Shall Overcome."
The request, fulfilled without hesitation by friends and strangers alike inside Union Baptist Church, fell in line with a greater message of the day.
"It is incumbent on each and every one of us, not just for this weekend, to embody the precepts of Martin Luther King for the entire year," said Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II of Holy Trinity Baptist Church, a co-convener of the MLK planning committee.
"Martin Luther King had a dream, and we have to be emboldened by that dream," the Rev. mr. Macklin said.
The event has been going on for 25 years, and a portion of money raised by the committee will go to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta, officials said.
Sunday's worship program featured readings from the Quran, Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, as well as music and a dynamic presentation by the Rev. C.M. Jenkins Sr. of Grace Evangelistic Temple.
Shelelia Turkson of Columbus, who is in town visiting family, looked out approvingly at the crowd of different religions and races.
"This is more about a spiritual connection of people loving God without worrying about color or religion or race."
The Rev. Mr. Jenkins told the audience that recent events like 9/11 and the war in Iraq had jolted the faith of many people, but only temporarily. Shortly after the war began, he said, churches seemed to be overflowing.
"But all of a sudden, just as it filled up, it emptied out," he said.
He urged people to be remain active and alert about what's happening around them. For example, he said, ministers on the South Side of town should mobilize in light of a recent string of shootings there. Ignoring the bad things in life is human nature, but not the answer.
"I looked the other night and saw the news, and it was so bad I turned it off," he said, and then paused. "But the news kept running anyway."
If more people could be like Martin Luther King Jr., some of society's problems probably would be easier to tackle, Mr. Jenkins said.
"God gave Martin Luther King a dream, which was so prophetic because he spoke of things that had not yet come about. Every one of us has to attach ourselves to the dream."
Carl McKee of Youngstown said Sunday's service can be a success if the feelings remain even after the holiday is over.
"I just hope it brings more unity to the community," he said.