MEDINA — The snow outside did not dampen the spirits of those gathered to celebrate a rescheduled community worship service in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sponsored by The Medina Ministerial Association, the service welcomed Medina County residents and elected officials to Medina Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon.
Before introducing the elected officials in attendance from across Medina County, Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell spoke of his research into King’s Beloved Community.
“Really at the end of the day … beloved community is what Dr. King described as a community where people gather like this of different faiths, of different races, of different beliefs, would support one another and help one another and promote one another,” Hanwell said. “I am proud to say in the county of Medina, we have a lot of that going on.”
Hanwell said residents need to look as far as the National Day of Prayer events, Kiwanis clubs and Rotaries as well as the boards and commissions in the county to see the strides that are being made.
“We are not there yet, but we are making great strides,” Hanwell said.
Carla and Bob Maas of Medina served as the featured speakers for the event, with each speaking about their trip to stops on The Civil Rights Trail in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee last summer.
The couple traveled to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, where King served as pastor between 1954 and 1960.
“That Church, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, was the only church where Rev. King served at full time,” Bob Maas said.
Bob Maas said one of the fascinating parts of the church’s history is that it “served as the epicenter of the Montgomery bus boycotts” in 1955 and 1956.
The boycott began when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white individual, and was arrested in the process.
“Dr. King was a key leader of the movement, many boycott plan meetings were held at this church during that time,” he said.
The church was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974, after attempts were made to demolish the church to make way for new structures.
Carla Maas spoke of the couple’s tour of Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama.
The church served as an organization point during the March 7, 1965, civil rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday,” she said.
The couples’ tour guide, Joyce, was 15 years old during the 1965 marches and told the couple that she had participated in the events.
“She said just the fumes from the tear gas that were on the people coming back was just enough to make your eyes water,” Carla Maas said.
“She was very proud to tell us that she had participated in that.”
The event also included prayer and song, with “Lift Every Voice and Sing” serving as the closing hymn.
An offering was collected for The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, which is awarded to a minority student in the Medina school district who “exemplifies the character” of King.