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Frigid temps don’t derail 17th Annual Fifeville MLK Day Celebration

Jan 27, 2019|Written By: Dylan Rosenthal

Despite temperatures in the 20s, dozens of Prospect neighbors and friends gathered at Buford Middle School on January 21, 2019 for the 17th Annual Fifeville Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. In an enduring tradition dating back to 2003, participants young and old peacefully marched with candles through the Prospect neighborhood in a display of unity. Once back in the warm environs of the Buford auditorium, attendees thawed out while enjoying a dynamic program of music, keynote address, and community awards in celebration of Dr. King’s legacy.

Following a welcome by Chief Operating Officer Anne Brown and opening prayer by Executive Director Nathan Walton, emcee and STRIVE mentor Juandiego Wade gave a brief but moving testimony about his experience volunteering with Abundant Life. He then introduced the Beloved Community Band, which blessed the crowd with a beautiful rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Director of Leadership Richard Feero then presented the 2019 Outstanding Partner Award to the Trinity Fellows, who have served Abundant Life and the Prospect community since 2003. Next, Sarah Malpass presented the Beloved Community Award to Prospect resident, Abundant Life board member, and Fifeville Neighborhood Association president Carmelita Wood.

“As I ponder this Scripture, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God,” I only want to reinforce what I believe Dr. King’s life in part taught us; and that is that peacemaking includes disrupting the chaos perpetuated by the devil with the truth of God’s word.” – Pastor Paul Harris

Emcee Wade then introduced Pastor Paul Harris of Victory Church of Charlottesville for the keynote address, “Keeping the Dream Alive and Well.” But before he spoke, the Beloved Community Band inspired the crowd to its feet with a rollicking performance of “This is the Day.” Pastor Harris then preached from Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” Harris said that from studying Dr. King’s life, he concludes “that peacemaking includes disrupting the chaos perpetuated by the devil with the truth of God’s word.”

Harris posited that “blessed” must mean more than happy, because “we know happiness is many times based on happenings and I imagine Dr. King in some of the happenings he endured did not engender the happy emotion. I think more it reflects the ultimate wellbeing and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the Kingdom of God.” Because peacemaking is active, Harris used the rest of his time to lay out three calls to action: to look up, to speak up, and to shut up.

The rapt audience gave Pastor Harris a warm applause, the Beloved Community Band treated them to one more tune (“Soon and Very Soon),” and Walton blessed the food, before attendees stepped out into the cold one last time for the brief walk to the Buford cafeteria for a feast catered by Mel’s Cafe.

See below for media coverage, videos, and images from the evening. Photos by Laura Merricks and Dylan Rosenthal. For more videos, see our MLK Day 2019 Youtube Playlist.

Fifeville community marches in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. (CBS 19 News)

Charlottesville Community Reflects on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy (NBC 29 News)


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