Church leaders honored at annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

Monday, January 18, 2010
Members of the congregation at the 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration Sunday sing "Lift Every Voice and Sing", the evening's opening hymn. (ERIN HEVERN)

At the 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration on Sunday, two local reverends were honored for their service to the community of Cape Girardeau and for fulfilling the dream of King.

The Martin Luther King Jr. City-Wide Celebration Committee presented service awards to the Rev. Byron Bonner of True Vine Ministries and the Rev. Howard McGee of New Horizon Missionary Baptist Church, two individuals who not only preach the word of God, but put action into it.

"They've been foot solidiers, trail blazers to bring about change ... not through a job they get paid for or have to do, something separate from their employment," said Debra Mitchell-Braxton, executive director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City-Wide Celebration Committee.

Mitchell-Braxton called Bonner empowering and said he often leaves the comfort of the church to walk the streets of South Cape Girardeau and preach to the public. He's been active in involving youth in his ministry and encourages families to stick together by having parents bring their children with them to church, instead of just sending them alone.

"He's a man of God, and he's not afraid to uplift individuals and help them be empowered and enhanced to reach their dreams," Mitchell-Braxton told a packed congregation at Rhema Word Breakthrough International Ministries.

McGee also often interacts with the community, donating countless hours to the Salvation Army and to a task force designated to bring about change on the south side of Cape Girardeau.

He has developed a food pantry at New Horizon and is always willing to speak up and join church committees, Mitchell-Braxton said.

"He believes in gathering youth off the street and holding them accountable to be in God's house," Mitchell-Braxton said.

Before the award presentation, an uplifted audience celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ministry through song and scripture. The congregation and members of the celebration committee also welcomed Adrian Taylor Jr. as the evening's keynote speaker.

"Dr. King took the principles and the word of God and he modeled them more than just preached them," Taylor said.

Taylor preached of worth and value and how following the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. means individuals must join together and lean on one another.

"If we don't realize that we need each other and answer the call and be there for each other then our children have no possible hope of walking in anything that remotely resembles the dream of Dr. King," Taylor said.


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