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Terry Cowgill
Rev. Sloan Letman IV of the Congregational Church delivers the sermon at the 12th annual interfaith service honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington, Mass.

Renew, Build, Restore: Celebrating MLK’s life

By Monday, Jan 20, 2020 News

Great Barrington — About 75 people filled the pews at the First Congregational Church on Monday afternoon to celebrate the life of America’s foremost civil rights leader.

This year the 21st annual interfaith service honoring the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, sponsored by Multicultural BRIDGE, featured the theme of “Renew, Rebuild and Restore.”

There were hymns, prayers and sermons. There was a briefing on an innovative BRIDGE summer program, the Happiness Toolbox. Click here to read an Edge story on the Happiness Toolbox by Hannah Van Sickle.

The sermon by Rev. Sloan Letman IV of the Congregational Church built on the theme of the service. Sloan wove modern motifs, politics and current events into the complex fabric of the struggle for human rights and justice.

See video below of Rev. Letman’s sermon, which is followed by a solo hymn, “My Living Is Not In Vain,” by Rev. Joallen Forte of the Macedonia Baptist Church, and a message about the Happiness Toolbox by BRIDGE director Gwendolyn Van Sant:


Forte also recalled her favorite King quotes. Among them:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.”

“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Two youngsters who participate in the Happiness Toolbox program, Jaziyah Forte and Lesleye Bautista Cruz, explained how the program relates to the ideals of King and how it strengthens the community’s identity.

See video below of Rev. Joallen Forte recalling her favorite King quotes and Jaziyah Forte and Lesleye Bautista Cruz sharing their youthful reflections:

Van Sant also wished to thank the many people who helped organize the event, in addition to BRIDGE: the Macedonia Baptist Church; the W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee; the First Congregational Church and the many volunteers who participated, including pianist Nancy King.

Below, to remind us of the eloquence and moral persuasiveness of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and why we celebrate his birthday, is his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.:

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