Ocean City remembers Martin Luther King’s message

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Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

OCEAN CITY — Unity was theme of the service reflecting on the message of Martin Luther King Jr. during Ocean City’s 24th annual celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Ocean City High School performing arts center.

City administrator Mike Dattilo, who introduced the speakers for the event, said that the community should feel proud to be one of the first to hold a ceremony like this.

“We’ve gathered as a community every year since and that’s something to feel good about,” he said, adding that the celebration doesn’t end Saturday, but continues Monday with a citywide cleanup as a Day of Service.

The crowd inside the auditorium stood and sang together, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” followed by a scripture reading by Rev. Paul Jerkins of Shiloh Baptist Church.

Jerkins said King was one of the United State’s greatest activists. He recited the scripture that inspired King’s sermon “Rediscovering Lost Values,” the story of Joseph and Mary, who realized they left Jesus behind on their way to Nazareth. He said that King advised society to rediscover the precious values it has left behind.

The invocation was given by Rev. Drena Garrett of St. James AME Church.

New Jersey Sen. Jeff Van Drew said King’s message applies to all levels of society, including government.

“It’s time for us to truly heed the words of Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said.

“There are so many times when we’re adversarial,” Van Drew said of his fellow politicians.

He said there are disagreements in the political realm for the sake of it, because representatives are worried about personal advancement instead of the greater good.

“That’s what we have to do: Love each other a little more. Not just talk at each other, but with each other,” he said.

Rev. Marcie Stanford of Macedonia United Methodist Church said that when King was shot and killed, her grandmother cried and told her it was up to her generation now to spread his message.

Stanford said as she considered King’s life, she came to four reflections. The first, she said, was the power of words filled with the power of faith. The second was the power of focused perseverance. The third was the power of humility, that the dream was bigger than the man who brought the dream, she said.

“He taught me that it’s not about me,” Stanford said, but rather that it was about the greater good.

And the fourth was to do it God’s way, she said, which is not always the way man would do things. Stanford said it was important to make sure “that not only were the ends just, but that the means were also just.”

She said that in the world today, where racism, bigotry and hatred still exist, she wonders sometimes what King would think.

“We have won some battles, but my brothers and sisters, we have not won the war,” she said.

Stanford said we are not yet at the mountaintop.

“My reflections are the strengths that help me to live day to day,” she said.

Part of the service included a photo slideshow of the devastation in Ocean City after Hurricane Sandy. In addition, three honorees were presented with certificates for their efforts during the storm to help keep the community together: resident Rebecca Wilson, who works at Ward’s Pastry; city director of emergency management Frank Donato and Ocean City emergency management deputy coordinator Scott Morgan.

Before the service ended, Rev. Gregory Johnson of Shiloh Baptist Church spoke about the message of Martin Luther King and recited King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“You’re hurt is my hurt and my hurt is your hurt,” he said. “But I’m so thankful that all of you are here today to celebrate Dr. King’s dream.”

Johnson said that King fought for the American dream, that everybody would be able to “grab the fabric of this world.”

He said that the one thing he really loves about Ocean City is the community spirit. Johnson said that when the residents here face adversity they always stand together.

Next year, he said, will be the 25th year the city will commemorate King with a service and he expects it to be a big celebration.

Mayor Jay Gillian, who was one of several speakers during the event, said he never stops being amazed at the volunteer spirit of the community, as evidenced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He said his hope is to have the auditorium bulging with people for this celebration. Gillian said he would also like to get Johnson into the schools to hear him speak and to recite King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

After the service, the community was invited to the cafeteria for a free soul food dinner prepared by members of Shiloh Baptist Church including Portia Thompson of Ocean City.

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Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.

Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School. Claire Lowe / Ocean City's Martin Luther King celebration Saturday, Jan. 18 at Ocean City High School.


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