By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
In honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Shenango Valley Ministerial Association held a worship service Sunday.
They left no doubt which part of the observance was more important.
“We come to honor greatness (King), but we come to worship his God,” said the Rev. Rob McFarland of Chestnut Ridge Church of God, Hubbard Township.
“This is about worship,” said the Rev. Russell Penn, pastor of the host parish, Second Missionary Baptist Church. Farrell.
The Rev. Raymond O. Brown of Mount Olive Baptist Church, Masury, the featured speaker, said it was “unsettling” to him to honor “someone who is so noteworthy.”
King’s accomplishments inspired people, changed a nation and impacted the world, Brown said. But, King started as a small-town pastor and had no idea that his stage would grow from a church pulpit to the entire world, Brown said.
A spiritual leader who became a social leader, King stood against injustice without raising an army, a gun or even his hand. His embracing of nonviolent means was “unlike anything this nation had seen before,” Brown said.
“He stood against injustice for all of us,” he said.
The fruits of that effort are felt today.
“He stood. We can now stand,” Brown said. “He stood steadfast. We can now sit where we want.”
No matter what King preached, how many times he marched, how often he stood with the oppressed, he would have accomplished nothing without God, Brown said.
“If it had not been for the Lord on our side, where would we be?” Brown said.
While King was taken away by an assassin’s bullet 45 years ago and his cause remains unfinished, his God is ready for the next movement, pastors said.
“He came to change the spiritual climate of our nation,” McFarland said. “We want to change the spiritual climate of the Shenango Valley. We have decided we are going to make a difference in our world just like Martin Luther King did.”
“We gotta get active,” Penn said. “We gotta get busy. We gotta become activists.”
If you see something you don’t like or isn’t right, “You gotta do something about it,” Penn said.
The service also featured music by the women of Second Baptist, the men of Mount Olive, and a reading of excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by Rev. Forrest Underwood.