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Community gathers to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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King’s 90th birthday and the dream is still alive

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HENDERSON COUNTY–The Henderson County Black History Committee hosted the Annual Candlelight Vigil Service Jan. 21, which would have been King’s 90th birthday. This year the service was held at The Church of the Living God PGT in Athens. Special guest and speaker was Gospel Recording Artist and Pastor of Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount, N.C., Rev. Luther Barnes.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. King sought equality and human rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.
King is most famous for his “I have a dream,” speech, a spirited call for peace and equality. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—a monument to the president who a century earlier had brought down the institution of slavery in the United States—he shared his vision of a future in which “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
That dream is still alive as people here and around the world struggle with prejudice, racism and inequality. The dream is echoed in the voices of people, including children who want to live in a world where as King said, “people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The Henderson County Community Choir ministered to the congregation in song and performed one of Barnes’ recorded songs, “I’m Still Holding On,” with a stunning solo performance by choir member Louie Criner.
Barnes not only ministered in music, setting the stage for a service full of love and unity, but preached a message on God’s grace. He commented that his mother taught him, “Music is good, but we need God’s word.” Eldress Mary Henderson served as the Mistress of Ceremonies, reminding everyone to be joyful, saying, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Barnes took his message from II Corinthians 12:7-10, where Paul is talking about his “thorn in the flesh” and the passage ends with God reminding him that, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”  Barnes told the group everyone has a thorn, or something in their life that they deal with that they may pray for God to remove.
“But as Paul prayed for God to remove the thorn in his flesh and we pray, God is answering, ‘My grace is sufficient,’” Barnes said. He said that sometimes the more important the person is (in ministry or service to God), the bigger the thorn. 
He urged the people to stop looking always for God’s blessings, but to seek his grace. “You have blessings, you need grace. Ask God for grace to cover you…Whatever you have to deal with in this life, God’s grace is sufficient.” 
The service concluded with candles, the congregation moving amongst each other to light each other’s candles as they sang, “We Shall Overcome.” The mood was one of solemnity, but one of hope, that someday King’s dream would be realized, and all men could live in harmony.

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