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Issue of October 22, 2014
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The bilingual choir of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon performs the opening number at Sunday's 28th annual ecumenical tribute for Martin Luther King Jr. in Corydon. Photos by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

'River of Justice' theme of MLK service


January 22, 2014 | 12:04 PM

The book of Amos in the Old Testament of the Bible contains the verse "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."

The theme of "Come to the River of Justice" was echoed while several speakers and vocalists took to the stage at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon during the three-hour, 28th annual ecumenical Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Sunday afternoon.

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For the second consecutive year, Minister Monty Fourte of Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville was the featured speaker at Sunday's MLK service. (click for larger version)
For the second year in a row, the Rev. Monty Fourte of Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville was the guest speaker.

During a 36-minute speech, Fourte told the audience, which numbered at about 150 people, including speakers and performers, that several people were instrumental in the civil rights movement and that slavery meant more than physical bondage. It also meant an excessive dependence on or a devotion to something.

"Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy and many more than what I can think of off the top of my head fought for each and every one of you, both black and white, of all racial creeds; they fought that you would have the same rights to a life in the United States of America," Fourte said. "They fought for it day in and day out. They went to jail for it. They were beaten for it. They were ridiculed over it. They stayed up all night and tossed and turned and couldn't get no sleep so that you and I wouldn't have to deal with slavery nor racism. And I would be a fool to tell you this evening that racism is over."

Fourte went on to liken sin to slavery.

"What is it that pulls us back into slavery?" he asked. "We're in clubs singing drop-it-like-it's-hot songs that lead us into the slavery of sin. What is it that continues to pull on us? Why is it that we decide to commit adultery? We have everything we need at home. You have a woman who cooks and cleans, and you have a man who is able to provide, but, still yet, there is something pulling you back into the slavery of adultery. What is it about lies that pulls you in? There's no such thing as a little white lie or a big black lie. The Word says, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness.' It don't say, 'Thou shalt not bear a little false witness.' What is it about lying that continues to captivate us?

"My brothers and sisters, these are sins that are holding us back from the glory of God," he continued. "I know we're not perfect people. I understand we are people who have trouble ... These are the sins that you have been delivered from but find yourself going back to."

Jewel Brown, one of founding organizers of the event, said Sunday's tribute was one of the best that she has enjoyed in 35 years.

"I am still savoring the different songs, poems, talks, speeches and choirs ... I really enjoyed everyone that participated," Brown said. "There was something special about this particular tribute. I believe it was because the whole world's been through so many dangers, toils and snares of 2013. We are ready for a change, hence the song from (performer) Matthew Blevins from (artist) Sam Cooke, 'A Change Is Going to Come'!"

The ultimate emancipation, Fourte said, comes not from man.

"You will not be free; we may have won a few battles through civil rights, we may have won a few battles through our ancestors, but you will not be truly free until you accept Christ Jesus," he said. "You will not be free until you feel the relationship with Jesus. You will not be free until you pray day in and day out.

"It is not until then that we, as a people, can come together and say the words ... Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last," Fourte said, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

As has been the norm with past observances, several others had a hand in the MLK presentation. Father Robert Hankee of St. Joseph welcomed everyone and gave the invocation and Minister Jerry Robinson of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church and Cindy Bauer of St. Joseph introduced the bilingual choir of St. Joseph and Down by the Wayside Choir from Louisville.

Pastor Paul Greer of Trinity Assembly of God read scripture, and Briana Rogers offered a musical selection.

Duane Nathaniel brought the crowd to its collective feet as he did a stirring recreation of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I loved the 'I Have a Dream' speech from Duane Nathaniel, and it put me back to the 1963 March on Washington," Brown said. "My dad took me there on a church bus from Brooklyn, N.Y. I got goose bumps from hearing it done so well."

Blevins, from Clair Memorial United Methodist Church in Irvington, Ky., also sang another song, "Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay," Trish Beddoe read a poem she wrote about the history of the ecumenical service, and the Rev. Webster (Webby) Oglesby, senior minister at Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon, played the guitar and sang a medley of up-tempo gospel numbers. Karolyn Mangeot of Corydon Presbyterian Church offered prayers of blessings, and Hankee closed the event with a benediction before a meal was served. Another Blessing from Irvington, Ky. performed during the meal.

"Everyone had a tremendous time and hated to leave," Brown said. "I was glad to see friends that had never been to a MLK service coming from New Albany and Louisville. They were in tears to know that in Corydon, Ind., we are together trying to do justice."

Twitter: @_alanstewart

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