CHARLESTON — The Church of the Nativity, located on James Island, celebrated its 11th Annual Ecumenical Prayer Service commemorating the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 21.
The event featured performances from a variety of local churches. There was entertainment from First Baptist Church choir, St. James Presbyterian Church USA Choir, St. Patrick Church children’s choir, Voices of Deliverance, and Nativity choir.
Everyone participated in the service. Several youths from the community joined together to read “The Purpose of Education” by Rev. King.
Stanford Fludd, one of two winners of Nativity’s Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest, read his composition.
“We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” Fludd said.
The featured guest presenter was the Rev. H. Sam Johnson of New Light United Methodist Church.
Rev. Johnson began by adding to the statement made by Fludd. He urged the congregation not to have fear of the unknown and to treat everyone equally.
“Justice denied to one is justice denied to all,” Rev. Johnson said.
Next he focused on “the dream and the dreamer.” In his speech, Rev. Johnson wondered if Rev. King had any idea of the impact that would be made on the future of the United States. He pondered aloud whether Rev. King could have possibly known that by leading a local movement he would in turn lead an entire nation.
“Martin Luther King Jr. was able to sit down and assess what was going on and still give words of hope and encouragement,” Rev. Johnson said.
He reminded the congregation of the simple things people take for granted. He stressed the importance of justice and of living life as an example to others.
Rev. Johnson related the importance of living one’s life to the fullest.
“If you want to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, live your life like every day is the last, and live it for someone else,” the preacher said.
Later, Rev. Johnson thanked Rev. King for letting the nation know that we are all God’s children. He thanked Rev. King for his contributions to our country.
“Thank you for the dream; not only for the dream, but also for your commitment of the dream,” Rev. Johnson said.
This was the third time the preacher had participated in Nativity’s ecumenical prayer service.
“He’s so good, we keep bringing him back,” said Franciscan Sister Noreen Buttimer, pastoral associate at Nativity.
Rev. Johnson, the retired pastor of Hibben United Methodist Church, seemed to love speaking just as much as people enjoyed listening to his powerful message.
Organizers of the event believe in the potency of the ecumenical prayer service. They see it as a way to unite the various cultures in the area.
“It’s important to me because of the past, both in the church and the community,” said Jimmy Craven. He is one of the three chairs of the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee at Church of the Nativity.
“If not for all time, at least for one night we all get to come together,” he said.
This seemed to be the sentiment of the audience. In the end, they joined together to sing, “We Shall Overcome.” Everyone seemed at peace, holding hands, living the dream.
“Because of his prophetic words, stand, witness and ultimately the sacrifice of his life,” Rev. Johnson said, “We can say: Dreamer, your dream is alive.”