Years ago, Dick Cox marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and even had the opportunity to sit and talk with him for an hour.
“I had so much to say,” the 76-year old reverend said at the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Germantown. He mimicked a talking motion with his hand.
The special service focused on celebrating the lives of both King and Malcolm X while encouraging people to carry on their legacies. Visiting preacher, Reverend Dr. Isaac Miller delivered a sermon which connected the past, present and future of social activism.
“You don’t begin to live your life until you find something worth dying for,” Miller said. “Both Malcolm and Martin were willing to put their life on the line.”
Miller added that the most important thing of all was to stand together with others in the cause.
Miller retired last year after 21 years as the pastor at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia and 32 years as pastor of multiple other churches before that. Both he and the Church of the Advocate are known as leaders in peace and social justice throughout Philadelphia.
“Martin, Malcolm and Jesus himself need you to continue in this love and spirit of the heart,” he told the congregants. “They need people to continue this journey in Philly.”
Miller ended the sermon teary-eyed, insisting that people can’t get weary of the work still ahead. He received a standing ovation.
“It’s nice to hear from someone who has been in the struggle,” said 59-year-old Carol Clyde, after the service ended.
“I’m really glad he [Miller] spoke today,” said 59-year-old Ray Torres. “He reminded us that needing to get in touch with our inner passion is key to moving our justice forward,”
On that note, the service also included the presentation of the 14th annual Social and Racial Justice award. This year’s recipient is Mt. Airy resident Beverly Lucas who was honored for her efforts both here and in Haiti.
The award was well timed, it was a year ago Jan. 12 that an earthquake devastated Haiti, leaving over 1.5 million homeless. Lucas is a founding board member of the Haitian micro credit bank Foncoze, which specializes in very small loans to the country’s poorest people. With 41 locations in the tiny country, Foncoze has played a key role, in the long recovery process.
The morning’s celebration concluded with everyone holding hands and singing, “We Shall Overcome.”
For some long time FUMCOG members, this annual event is more than a memorial or a tribute. To Cox, it speaks to the big picture, and indicates that the congregation is on the right track.
“This church stands for what I think the Christian faith expects and demands of Christian people,” he said.
And Donna Miller, 61, who has been a member of FUMCOG for 22 years, put it even more simply. “This sets a tone for the year,” she said.