HARRISBURG – Members, family and friends of Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church gathered Monday to honor both American's most celebrated civil rights pioneer and the progress of society.
The 15th Annual Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., this year themed "Just how far have we come?", featured messages and music from church members and guests.
At the end of the program, all in attendance were invited to offer remarks on the day.
Opal Mann of Carrier Mills, who was noted to be the eldest in attendance at 86, spoke of a friend who had passed away and offered encouragement.
"Let's all pray for one another, and please God, bless everyone," she said.
Lisa Bacon referred to the 1939 Billie Holiday song, "Strange Fruit," a protest song about the lynching of Africa-Americans. The song compares those murdered, left hanging from trees, to a tree's "fruit."
"We wonder just how far we've come? If Martin Luther was here to say anything, he'd say oh my goodness," Bacon said. "Don't let our children – and some already have – become strange fruit."
Marion Riley, a deacon at Mt. Pleasant for about 20 years, spoke about the importance of helping other people in need.
"John F. Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,'" Riley said.
He said people must help others in order for society to function.
"If you see someone struggling, give them a hand," Riley said.
Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek attended to declare a proclamation honoring the ceremony, which he said he enjoyed.
"I'm really glad I went," he said. "People in this community don't the history of that church. It's one of the older churches in Harrisburg."
The church was organized in 1880 and the building was moved to its current location at 331 E. Walnut St. in 1921.