By joe gorman
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to usher in what he called the “Beloved Community” here on Earth, the main speaker in a celebration of King’s life said Sunday.
The Rev. Gena Thornton, lead pastor at Grace AME Church in Warren, told the crowd at New Bethel Baptist Church on Youngstown’s South Side that we are empowered to bring that community here because God gave us the power to govern the Earth and ourselves when He created Earth.
“The power is in you,” Rev. Thornton said. “Get up and find God — whatever name you call God — find God and let him carry you to a place of humanity.”
New Bethel played host to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration in honor of the holiday today celebrating King’s birth.
Most speakers focused on King’s adherence to Jesus’ teachings on loving our fellow man. The Rev. Martin Blake in his opening invocation said King’s life makes him think of the 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians — often called “The Love Chapter” — because of Paul’s teachings on love.
“The foundation of his [King’s] message is love,” Rev. Blake said. “Chase and become the dream and in love live the dream.”
The Youngstown Connection performed, as did the Harambee Youth Dancers, and the Emancipation Choir performed two songs, including a rousing salute to former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died last month.
Reading from King’s famed letter from the Birmingham Jail was Shwanda Jones, Carina Chatman, Ericka Pryor and Gregory Jones of the Sojurn to the Past Youth Group.
Rev. Thornton said King believed the “Beloved Community” would be a place where people believed in God and acted on that belief, which includes different groups of people living together in harmony.
“Martin Luther King was keenly aware that we are all connected,” Rev. Thornton said.
During the late 1960s, King shifted his focus from civil rights to opposing the war in Vietnam, Rev. Thornton said, which cost him some support at home. But she said King was thinking globally and not just of the Beloved Community being in the United States, but internationally.
“The Beloved Community is global,” Rev. Thornton said.
Rev. Thornton warned of the perils of organized religion and how it can be rigid and exclude people and does not leave room for growth. She said God’s love is the key and is so powerful that people cannot even begin to imagine its immensity.
“God’s love is far more redeeming than our human hearts can imagine,” she said.