Hope alive at MLK event

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Rev. Stanley Ward, who pastors in Centreville, spoke on “Keeping Hope Alive and Yes, We Can” during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Clanton’s E.M. Henry Recreation Center on Jan. 15.

Ward opened by reading Hebrews 11: 1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

During his talk, Ward gave background on King and the need to trust in Jesus to continue to make things better.

“He was founder and organizer of the SLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight segregation and to achieve civil rights in 1957,” Ward said. “He also won the Nobel Peace Prize Award, and he helped lead Montgomery Bus Boycott, when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man. He also led the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.”

Ward said those working for civil rights in the 1960s “were beaten, attacked by dogs, have the fire hose turned on, spit on — but they didn’t give up. They held onto their faith.”

In King’s final speech, he said the threats against him no longer worried him because he had “been to the mountain and seen the promised land.” Ward said King knew he was about to die, “he was trying to tell us to keep hope alive and yes, we can.”

King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. in 1968. The national recognition of King was instituted in 1986.

“God has called us from a mighty long way as a black race,” Ward said. “We still have a very long way to go.”

He said progress will be made through hard work when opportunities open.

“In order for us to get our share, we must put God first,” Ward said. “We must come together with unity, love and respect. There is no time to talk back, and this is not time to turn on one another.”

He stressed the importance of trusting God.

“We can keep hope alive, but we have to put our faith in God … Our lives most be built on a firm foundation,” Ward said.

Ward said love is the answer to continued change.

“We have got to love one another,” Ward said. “We can’t do it with violence. We can’t do it with drugs. We have to stop tearing our community down and come together.”

He said patience is required to see results.

“If we are not patient, we will go ahead of God and that’s when we will make a mess of things,” Ward said. “We have got to let the world know which side we are on … the Gospel is good news.”

“We have come this far by faith because of trusting in Jesus and not in ourselves,” Ward said.

Recent natural disasters and epidemics, Ward said, are pointing to the need to “get our house in order” because Jesus will be returning to the earth for his church soon.