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MLK celebrates 25 ‘sweet’ years

The 25th annual ecumenical tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. in Harrison County will take place Sunday afternoon beginning at 2:30 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon.
This year’s theme is ‘Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Years!’
Jewel Brown, who has been involved with each King service here, as well as others in New Albany, recalled that it was ‘challenging’ back in January 1979, when she first started a King service at St. Paul AME Church in Corydon.
‘I was determined to test the waters,’ Brown said. ‘By this, I mean the timing was bad because everyone was so young and uninformed about Martin here in Corydon.’
Even her fellow members were surprised by Brown’s proposal.
‘They were excited but fearful of the circumstances,’ she said.
Brown initially ap-proached the children at St. Paul, using videotapes and reading material to tell them about the slain civil rights leader.
‘The children were excited and pleased,’ Brown said. ‘And, their parents came out of the service wanting more knowledge. So, I knew we were in this together and we had to continue our struggles.’
In less than a decade, attendance grew so large that the AME members decided to move the service to Corydon Christian Church ‘ Disciples of Christ. It was a natural progression, as several members of CCC and their pastor had been attending the service at St. Paul’s.
Other denominations ‘ Assembly of God, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian ‘ have since served as host.
‘God has blessed us with love here in Corydon, reaching out and spreading love,’ Brown said when asked about the success of the King service.
‘And, everyone wants to be a part of this thing. They look forward to it with anticipation!’
Father John T. Judie of Louisville returns as this year’s guest speaker. Also sharing time at the podium will be the Rev. Jerry Robinson, St. Paul’s current pastor, and the Rev. Tonya Burris, its former pastor who is now at Allen Chapel in Terre Haute. The Rev. Webster (Webby) Oglesby, senior pastor at Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon, Father Robert Hankee, pastor at St. Joseph, Most Precious Blood and St. Peter, the Rev. Paul Greer, pastor at Trinity Assembly of God near Corydon, the Rev. Kevin Mallory, pastor at Mauckport and Fairview United Methodist churches, and the Rev. Scott Hill from Corydon Presbyterian also will participate.
Sharing the duties of host will be Brown’s daughter, Jessica, Mallory, Trish Beddoe and Cindy Bauer.
‘People should come to see how this small town of Corydon can get together with so many different races, churches, religions at least once a year, under one roof, peacefully, lovingly, and celebrate the love on a one-on-one basis,’ Brown said.
‘And, you can share your joys, songs, recipes and have good, old-fashioned fun. And we have folks from Louis-ville, New Albany, Jeff(ersonville), Irvington (Ky.), Indy, Elizabethtown (Ky.) and many other cities coming here just to be a part of this beautiful celebration.’
An MLK service would not be complete without music, and many past performers are scheduled at Sunday’s tribute, including James Taylor, The Spiritual Wonders, the Down by the Wayside Choir and the Archdiocese Choir, all from Louisville, Bethel AME Choir from New Albany with soloist Yvonne Grundy and the St. Joseph Catholic Church Hispanic Choir.
Everyone is invited to stay after the service for a meal. A covered dish, preferably in a disposable dish, would be appreciated but is not necessary.
‘I take pride in this historical Corydon and love doing this each year,’ Brown said. ‘I can hardly wait to see people that drive from the various places to enjoy our fellowship that we portray in this beautiful town without bickering, hate and malice.
‘One does not have to dress fancy,’ she added. ‘Just come as plain as you like or dress fancy if you want to. We will still welcome anyone without prejudice. We stand for peace, harmony and love. That is what Martin Luther King Jr. was about.’