TROY — On Monday morning, young and old braved the cold as they gathered together on Troy’s Public Square to march in unity in remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The group of approximately 40 people sang hymns as they walked to the Troy Police Department to pray with the Rev. Richard Culp before attending the celebration service held at the First United Church of Christ.
Pastor Calvin Alston Jr. was the keynote speaker with the message of “Unity in One.”
“The Scripture tells us that God does not show partiality or discriminates who you are — whether you are Greek, Jew, or whatever — we are all one in Christ,” Alston Jr. shared before the march began. “Unity can only come from love.”
Born in rural South Carolina, the Columbus-based the Rev. Alston Jr. shared that the state of race relations often depends on which sector of the country a person is located. He said he believes race relations in his lifetime “have gotten tremendously better.”
In the Rev. Alston Jr.’s message, he shared how unity begins when people take the time to listen to one another, view them through the eyes of the Lord and to respect and support each other in good times and in hard times.
“Unity is built on supporting each other … unity comes when you respect one another,” the Rev. Alston Jr. shared.
The Rev. Calvin Alston Jr. was invited to speak by tbe Rev. David Richey.
Richey said he was surprised and encouraged by the turnout to march despite subzero weather conditions on Monday morning.
“Young and old, that’s the sign — we’re all in this together,” the Rev. Richey said.
During a prayer prior to the walk, Pastor Richey said, “We thank you for this day in celebration of a life, not just for what he did, but what he continues to do through his teaching this very day.”
Jordyn Robinson, 17, and her brother Nigel Lee, 11, attended the symbolic march despite the frigid temperatures on Monday morning.
“It’s a tradition that we do it every year. We do it for equality,” Robinson shared.
Among those in attendance was Mayor Michael Beamish, who presented a proclamation to the First United Church of Christ for hosting the celebration service to honor Dr. King.
“We’re called to serve one another and we are to walk humbly with our God,” Beamish shared. “It’s got to start somewhere and it might as well start in Troy, Ohio U.S.A. right?”
Beamish noted the dozens of organizations and community centers that work together to serve those in need in Troy and Miami County.
“Each of us today can go out and be that beacon of light and continue to serve,” Beamish said. “We don’t have to always agree, but we have to respect each other.”
Soloist Nicole Burton shared her favorite hymns in celebration of the day, noting the cold weather served as a physical reminder of the generations of pain endured before her.
“As we were walking, I was trying to remember what my grandmother or what my great-great-grandmother went through. In those 10-15 minutes, I tried to endure the pain from the cold as my fingers were starting to tingle,” Burton shared. “That was just a minute window of what they had to endure in their lifetime.”
Dancing, singing and fellowship following the service rounded out the day’s celebration of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Miami County Martin Luther King Team includes Marva Archibald, Julie Gillespie, the Rev. David Richey, the Rev. Loren Allen, and John Schweser.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews