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T.A. JONES/The Warren Record

Pictured are recipients of Trailblazer awards and some of the participants in Sunday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance, from the left: Capt. R.W. Hagwood, Warren County Rescue Squad; Maurice Alston, Norlina Volunteer Fire Department; Tilda Hendricks; Charles Jefferson, Soul City VFD; Beatrice Banks, Macon Rural VFD; Billy Reed, Longbridge VFD; Walter Powell, Warrenton Rural VFD; Hugh Freeman, Longbridge VFD; Barbara Brayboy, Arcola VFD; Tare “T” Davis, chairman, Warren County Board of Commissioners and fire commissioner; the Rev. Seth Miller, pastor of Sulphur Springs Baptist Church and observance worship leader; Dennis Paschall, Warren County Emergency Services director; Larry M. Jones, Jr., president, Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee; and Nancy Paschall. Warren County has over 400 volunteer firefighters and multiple volunteer fire departments outside the county that provide mutual aid when called upon.

The spirit and vigor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s pursuit for change were felt as his personal quotes resounded during the 18th Year Commemorative Worship Service celebrating his life and legacy held Sunday at Cooks Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenton.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” His words of hope, determination and faith still encouraged and stirred the crowd that filled the small country church.

As hymns and gospel songs moved the congregants to their feet, the pastor of the day, the Rev. Dr. O.D. Sykes, reminded all that there is still much more work to be done. The title of his sermon, “I Can Do This,” spoke volumes, and his message challenged listeners to continue to work tirelessly, to fight for what is right, and to never lose hope.    

King was a prominent Baptist minister and dedicated social activist who led the United States’ Civil Rights Movement, ending the legal segregation of African-Americans mainly in the South and throughout the U.S. from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination on April 4, 1968. He stood as a strong pillar of hope and change, and he lost his life fighting for justice and equality for all.

According to constitutioncenter.org, King’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1983, and all 50 states made it a state government holiday by 2000. 

Dr. King once spoke, “We know that to bring justice, love and friendship, we must build strong communities that foster these things.” A celebration of community and service was demonstrated Sunday as Warren County firefighters and emergency medical services workers were recognized and celebrated for their efforts rendered daily. 

Before Evangelist Tilda J. Hendricks and County Commission Chairman Tare “T” Davis, awarded the firefighters and EMS workers with their Trailblazer awards, the Rev. Seth Miller, pastor of Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, worship leader, shared his appreciation for firefighters as he recalled a time that he needed them personally when his home burned.  

As the service closed, Sykes noted that Dr. King was not focused on color, but rather on what was right. 

Sykes pastors Swift Creek Baptist Church in Whitakers and Springfield Baptist Church in Littleton. He is also second vice moderator of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

To close the observance, all stood with locked arms while swaying and singing, “We Shall Overcome,” a key anthem of the Civil Rights Movement known as a protest song.

Founding members of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee are the Rev. Carson Jones, pastor of Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church, and the Rev. John Gooch, pastor of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, both of Warrenton. Active members are Larry Jones, president; Tilda Hendricks, Stanley C. Jones, Kendra Davis, Gary A. Jones, Carolyn Jordan, Shonda Jordan and Joyce Loretta Bullock. 

The MLK Committee’s next event is Warren County’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship and Awards Gala, Dinner and Dance on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m. at the Warren County Armory Civic Center. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased by Feb. 15. For more information, contact Stanley C. Jones, Jr. at 252-204-6164 or Kendra Davis at 252-432-6795.