The 2018 MLK, Jr. Day, on Monday, January 15, marks the fiftieth year following the death of Dr.
King. This year the annual gathering at Lewisburg United Methodist Church honoring Dr. King swelled to more than 200 people. The featured speaker for the event was Reverend Larryetta Ellis, pastor at the Edgewood Presbyterian Church in Maxwelton, who gave a lively and refreshing service focused on a sermon by Dr. King in Selma, Alabama, on the day after “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, which emphasized speaking up when injustice is done. “Change begins with us, the community,” she said.
“Can you love God in your neighbor?” Ellis asked. She urged the community to speak up for social
justice when they see injustice done. “If you don’t,” she said, “then your silence becomes a silent voice of approval of that injustice.”
Ellis quoted from Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984), a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor best known for a widely-paraphrased statement which begins with, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Socialist.” and closing with” … Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” The point is, Ellis said, “We can no longer afford to be silent witnesses to injustice.”
Ellis’s theme of speaking up for justice paralleled the theme of a student essay and art competition in
elementary schools around the county, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things
that matter,” a quote from Dr. King.
“Read these essays and you will feel better about the world today,” said Susanna Robinson, who
announced the student awards. Several fourth and fifth-graders read aloud from their essays during the awards ceremony at LUMC, with resonating phrases of”Speak up!” ”No one can cage a revolution!” and “Let’s open the gates to freedom,” which drew pounding applause and “amens” from the gathering.
The names of the essay awards are: Fourth grade: first place, Genevieve Lowthorp, GES; second place,
Tag Elkins, LES; third place, Anna Lee Brady, GES.
Fifth grade: first place, Casey Bair, GES; second place, Julia Troyer, GES; third place, Baylor Wooten,
GES; honorable mention, Mary Johnson, GES
The art awards are: first place, Joel Troyer, GES; second place, Melody Thornton, Rainelle; third place,
Jesse Walkup, Crichton.