Justice was on the minds of two different organizations as they held faith-based events during the King weekend and on the eve of Black History Month. The two events drew both clergy and elected officials as they discussed ways to continue King’s social justice legacy. So, they came from African Americans in the criminal justice system primarily in Philadelphia to an interfaith partnership of community leaders in Montgomery County.
First, the Haven Penial United Methodist Church drew a full house of those who braved the Sunday, Jan. 18 weather for their annual Justice Sunday event. This year’s theme was “Believe in Yourself,” and it took place at the church located at 2301 W. Oxford St. in North Philadelphia where the Rev. Gertrude Duckett is the pastor.
This two-part event was hosted by the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ). Their annual Justice Sunday event kicked off with a breakfast where among the guest speakers was the group’s national co-chair, Second District Congressman Chaka Fattah.
Then the program moved into the church’s sanctuary for a series of presentations that was a prelude to the Sunday Worship Service. After a welcome from Margaret Turner, the NABCJ-PA treasurer, member at large Edward Burnley Sr. gave the historical overview of the group. Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell made a presentation of the Lucien Blackwell Humanitarian Award. This year’s recipient was Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
“We had a great event,” said Marq Temple, the chapter president and one of the coordinators of the event. Temple gave the concluding remarks of the NABCJ portion of the program. “Through the efforts of our membership, NABCJ provides an action-oriented vehicle for initiating constructive change within the criminal justice system.”
Just outside of Philadelphia more than 1,000 gathered at the Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown held their Fifth Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon at Presidential Caterers, 2910 DeKalb Pike in East Norriton on Saturday, Jan. 17. The co-chairs were Pastor Marshall Paul Hughes Mitchell, pastor of Salem, and Commissioner Josh Shapiro. The theme of this year’s event was “The Eternal Flame.”
“Today is the inaugural moment of a partnership that will outlast all of us,” Shapiro said. “As the first of many partnerships to come, Montgomery County and Salem Baptist are clearly staking out a celebration of life and works of one of America’s foremost leaders.”
“We in the Montgomery County area wanted to hold an event that honored our young people who are carrying out Dr. King’s legacy,” Mitchell said. “That why we are celebrating young leaders because we realize the older people don’t have exclusivity in leading.”
Thus among this year’s honorees were the 2015 essay contest winners. Abington High School sophomore earned the first place honors. The second and third place awardees were Cheltenham High School sophomore Kennedy Clark and Upper Moreland Middle School fifth grader Cory Martin, respectively. The three received thunderous applause from the standing room only crowd as they received their trophies at the gala.
Others on their program included a welcome by Anthony W. Luker and an invocation delivered by the Rev. Cynthia Skripak of the Willow Grove United Methodist Church. Online publisher Donna Byrd gave the keynote address. Honorees Dr. George C. Hill and Dr. Washington C. Hill received their honors from presenters Aurelia Saunders Satchell and Gregory Lyles. The Rev. John Olsen, associate minister at Salem, delivered the benediction.