A Heart Full of Grace and Soul Generated By Love: MLK Celebration 2019

January 22, 2019

Our conference gathered on Saturday, January 19 to celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in worship, prayer, and homily and through the special recognition of those continuing to carry his dream forward.
Following moving worship with the Livingstone College Gospel Choir, the Rev. Dr. Otto Harris, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Charlotte and Pamela Shoffner, chair of the Western North Carolina Justice and Reconciliation team, presented several awards. 
“Martin Luther King, Jr. is still remembered 51 years after his assassination because he believed the Gospel. The Gospel was not theory to him. He was not perfect, but the Gospel emanated through his life. He made some folks uncomfortable, he made himself uncomfortable. But he lived social justice through direct action. He put legs to his faith,” said Dr. Harris. “There are others who have come behind Dr. King who we have the privilege of honoring today.”
These 2019 Drum Major for Justice Award recipients reflect “a heart of full grace and a soul generated by love,” to quote a Martin Luther King, Jr. sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct.”
Rev. Gilbert and Grace Caldwell: A retired clergy member of the Mountain Sky/Denver Conference, Rev. Caldwell was born in Greensboro, N.C. and received his local preacher’s license from the North Carolina Conference. He was also one of the few African American members of Methodist Student Movement in the early 1950’s. He is one of the founders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and was one of the first presidents. The Caldwells spoke to the gathering via Skype and members of their family accepted the award in their honor.
Rev. Dawn Hand: The Rev. Dawn Hand is a native of Charlotte, N.C. and a member of the Western North Carolina Conference. She is a prominent advocate for social justice and currently serves as the District Superintendent for the Pittsburgh district in the Western Pennsylvania Conference. Rev. Hand also spoke via Skype and her mother Mrs. Ella Hand accepted the award in her honor.
Rev. Miller Carter: The late Rev. Miller C. Carter, Jr. served in the Western North Carolina Conference with a Drum Major Instinct, a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. His wife, Mrs. Howalina Carter accepted the award in his memory.
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore HandMs. Kim ShockleyRev. Dr. Otto Harris also received recognitions of their contributions from the Western North Carolina Justice and Reconciliation team. 
Bill Curry gave the keynote address. Mr. Curry is an inspirational speaker, novelist, former NFL player and member of Peachtree UMC in Atlanta. His homily was followed by Holy Communion and a time of conversation facilitated by Rev. Charlie Rivens, pastor of The Place UMC in Charlotte.
The event was sponsored by the WNCC-Justice & Reconciliation Team (J&R), WNCC Commission on Religion & Race (CORR), WNCC Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR). 

Watch the full celebration.
Save the Date for Next Year: The Western NC Conference MLK Jr. 2020 Celebration will be held on Saturday, January 18 at St. Paul UMC, 2400 Dellabrook Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.