BERKELEY – At the Second Baptist Church in Manitou Park, young people stood up and shared their blueprint for life as part of a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
A short film clip was shown, in which King gave a speech to young students asking what their blueprint was for the rest of their lives. He urged them to “do your job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn couldn’t do it better.”
Some in the audience spoke along when he said “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Susan Mosley, a teacher at Thorne Middle School in Middletown, and a deacon at the Second Baptist Church, showed the video and asked those in attendance to share their plans, as she does with her students.
Three young people in the audience volunteered spontaneously to come up to the podium and share their blueprint, hoping to inspire others to never stop learning, to fight through hardship, and to believe in yourself.
Everybody has a blueprint, no matter their age, said Rev. William A. Greene, Jr., who was overseeing the ceremony.
This celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was about honoring King’s legacy and to work toward dismantling injustice in all its forms.
“It’s more than an annual gathering to pay tribute to the past,” he said.
There were readings from the Old and New Testaments, singing “We Shall Overcome” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” also known as “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”
Local leaders were given a chance to speak, including South Toms River Mayor Oscar Cradle, Freeholder Virginia Haines, Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, and Berkeley Councilwomen Judith Noonan and Sophia Gingrich, speaking on behalf of Mayor Carmen Amato, who could not attend.
Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-3rd) also could not attend and sent a video message. Several people walked out in protest during his message, and came back when it was over. Jeff Wilhelms, one of the vice presidents of the Toms River National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that the protest was because the Republican Party has prompted racial divide in this country.
Another part of the ceremony was a praise dance. Young parishioners from the neighboring Holy Temple Church of God in Christ performed a dance along with the gospel song “Trust in You.”
At the part of the ceremony where everyone was asked to greet their neighbor, there was so much of it that the reverend had to corral them back to continue the service.
It was a full house. People of all races were welcome. It was more than just the Baptists in attendance; members from B’nai Israel and the Islamic Center of Ocean County were present.
After the service, as everyone from different walks of life were still saying their goodbyes, Greene was asked if the nation is more divided now than it has been.
“It feels like it,” he said, motioning to the room. “And this is what brings us together. Look around. We have all come together in unity.”