Fulfilling the Dream in St. Charles
Columnist sees signs in the King Community Worship Service that King's "I Have a Dream" speech is becoming real.
The button on my clergy robe stated, “Fulfill the dream.”
The black and white metal button is slightly larger than a quarter and has a photo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on it. It was given to me a few years ago by a man I also admire greatly.
Clergy don’t usually wear buttons on their robes, but I did, along with my clergy stole this past Monday night at the community worship service in honor of King. I wanted to participate in the evening with this reminder.
King made his dream known on Aug. 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in what is called his “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
King told us what the dream would look like in reality. That dream lives on in our personal consciousness as well as in our laws and national conscience.
The button I wore read “fulfill the dream,” not that the dream is fulfilled.
As I sat in my place in the choir at Monday’s service, I looked around for signs of the dream being fulfilled. I found them in the St. Charles Community Choir, the Human Relations Commission, the Community Builder award recipient, and in the call to action.
The St. Charles Community Choir's members come from 10 different churches in St. Charles: Faith United Methodist, First United Methodist, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Charles Christian, St. Charles Presbyterian, St. Cletus, St. John African Methodist Episcopal, St. John United Church of Christ and Trinity Episcopal.
I took time to list all 10 churches because I believe the St. Charles Community Choir represents fulfilling the dream. The choir is a group of men and women, old and young, protestant and catholic, who have skin tones of varying shades. We do our best to blend our voices and make a holy sound.
It didn’t matter if we said we were Presbyterian, Catholic, or Missionary Baptist. We sang side by side, shared music, shared space, shared mistakes. We were one choir for one night.
The St. Charles Human Rights Commission, established by the city, is another way the dream is being fulfilled. Commission president Pam Coaxum told the approximately 300 people who had gathered at St. Cletus Catholic Church that the commission works to promote mutual understanding and respect among all social, racial, religious, cultural, and ethnic groups in the community.
I believe that the creation of this commission is a step in changing St. Charles' environment. I am also glad that so many people who may not have known about the commission heard about it at a service honoring King.
The St. Charles Ministerial Alliance presented its Community Builder Award at the King Community Worship Service to Donna Martin and the Sharing Meals Program. Just over a year ago, there was no place in St. Charles for down-on-their-luck people to find a meal on the weekend. Through Martin’s efforts and St. John's church, Sharing Meals began offering lunch one Saturday a month at the church. Trinity Episcopal Church is a partner in Sharing Meals, and now lunch is served at Trinity Episocopal Church a second Saturday each month.
Creating a ministry to fill a void in services for a vulnerable segment of the community builds up the community making it a better, more just and compassionate place. Feeding the hungry and coming up with a creative way to do so is fulfilling the dream.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, was the preacher for the worship service.
At the end of her message, the call to action, Blackmon asked, “Are you a servant of God or have you simply chosen to serve God?”
As a servant of God, you gave given up control, she said. You have turned control of your life over to God. But, in choosing to serve God, you are still in control. You still decide when to serve, where to serve, who to serve.
I found this part of her message to be challenging and humbling. There is nothing wrong in serving others in the name of God. There is something wrong when we think are doing a good job of “doing good.” Are we servants of God, giving of time, talent and treasure because we can do nothing else, called to do so by God, or serving because we think we can this week?
To fulfill the dream we must give up of control.
We are not there yet. But signs have been seen. And many of us share the dream King once shared with us.