PALMETTO — Music and the reading of scripture filled the Palmetto Youth Center as the community gathered Sunday to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dubbed “Celebration of Worship, Thanksgiving and Praise,” the service brought all walks of life together, including a pastor from Tanzania, Africa, making the celebration a truly global affair.
Pastor George Makala greeted the crowd of more than 100 with a booming voice and accent from his native land, calling on listeners to open their minds to God.
“How we think influences everything we do,” he said.
Of course, on the eve of the day the nation honors King, the group had its mind on the great civil rights leader.
“Dr. King’s ministry has left us with an indelible example of how to live.” said Deacon Gretchen Platt.
Between sermons, the Saint Paul’s Missionary Baptist Choir sang hymns to a keyboard and drum beat. During the rousing numbers, most of the congregation stood, clapped and sang along.
Pastors from a half-dozen churches spoke, joining together on a stage that held a podium with a large picture of King. Faith United Methodist Church, Life Changers Christian Church, Community Outreach Church and First Church of the Nazarene were among the churches represented.
It made for an emotional atmosphere for Ederick Johnson, a Manatee High School student and youth president of the Manatee chapter of the NAACP.
“No event can even put into words what Dr. King did for us,” he said. “I am here to honor him and commemorate his accomplishments.”
First Church of the Nazarene Pastor Tony Miller spoke of diversity in his sermon, saying the gathering of the people at the service followed the country’s overall push toward inclusion and civil rights.
“Our country is evolving and I think it’s great,” he said. “We all have something in common — and that is Jesus Christ.”
Makala summed up the crowd’s passion for honoring King, saying he looks forward every year to the service.
“I am always just so honored to be here,” he said.