HARTFORD – It was a packed house Monday afternoon at Hartford’s oldest African American church, where two congregations came together to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Bishop John Selders, of Amistad UCC, welcomed the crowd by inviting them to celebrate King, who Selders said was the “greatest American ever produced on native soil.”
“You want to know why we gather?,” he asked. “We have to gather…if we have any social justice in our bones, we have to gather today.”
But he said, living out King’s legacy can’t just happen one day a year. He encouraged the crowd to carry King’s example in their hearts and, “go out and do justice.”
Johnson, a presiding elder of the AME Church, said part of “doing justice” means to stop being judgmental, he said, that too many individuals make superficial speculations about one another – an action King would have frowned upon.
“We cannot look at a person’s gender and make a judgment, we can’t look at a person’s age and speculate,” he said. “That kind of judgment leads to error and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will forever reign in our spirits, for he reminded us that we have to be judged by our character.”
He said the church, the country and “all the justice fighters” need to wake up and stop looking at other human beings through a condemnatory lens.
However there are some, Johnson said, that deserve to be criticized. At the service he publicly denounced Rush Limbaugh for criticizing President Barack Obama for taking too long to assist the Haiti nation. Especially, he said, “when he was fine when George W. Bush left all of those people in New Orleans after Katrina.”
Johnson also rebuked Pat Robertson who said Haitians long ago pledged to serve the devil if he would help them win their independence from France, and the devil said, "It's a deal."
Robertson said, "ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other."
“I don’t care what color he is, he’s just off target and for a so-called Christian minister, how dare he call himself an ambassador of Christ to suggest that the people of Haiti deserved what they got,” Johnson said.
The sanctuary erupted.
The majority of the collection taken at the service will go toward relief efforts in Haiti, said Rev. Stephen Camp, pastor of Faith Congregational.
For information on how you can help call (860) 547-0820.
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