Thrive Cosponsors MLK Celebration
The 27th Martin Luther King, Jr., Day community worship event on Sunday, Jan. 21, at New Hope Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., turned out to be a special occasion filled with faith, justice, and unity. Originally scheduled for Jan. 14, the ecumenical event sponsored by several area churches had faced unexpected challenges because of inclement weather.
After a warm welcome from Rev. Parris McMurray, senior pastor of Renaissance Church of God in Christ, pastor Brad Knetsch and minister Christy Knetsch of Madison Church: South Hill CRC read from Hebrews 12:1-3, setting the spiritual tone for the evening. And soul-stirring choir and performances by students Bailey Bryant and Andrew Warren enriched the worship experience.
Celebrating Dr. Rae Anne Booker's Legacy
A significant portion of the event was dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Dr. Rae Anne Booker, a charter member of the MLK Community Celebrations and vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the University of Michigan Health-West. Booker's notable contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion were highlighted by various individuals at the event.
In a poignant moment, Calvin University announced the establishment of the Dr. Rae Anne Booker scholarship, highlighting a commitment to the values Dr. Booker championed throughout her career.
Reflecting on Dr. King
The keynote speaker, Rev. C.A. Pace, Jr., senior pastor of True Light Baptist Church, reflected on Dr. King's final speech, “I've Been to the Mountaintop.”
Pace drew parallels between some of the challenges faced by King, including a near-fatal stabbing, and the ongoing struggles for justice and equality today. He connected historical events such as the civil rights movement with contemporary issues such as the injustices against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner, emphasizing that the fight for justice is ongoing but can bring positive change.
A Message of Hope and Unity
Pace delivered a powerful message of hope inspired by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Despite the challenges of everyday living in an unjust society, he said, the fight for justice is worth the effort and will eventually yield positive outcomes.
A concluding benediction prayer over Booker by senior pastor Jay Jones of the Pentecostals of Kentwood Church brought a sense of healing and unity, emphasizing the importance of collective efforts in the pursuit of justice and equality.