BY LOUIS C. WARD
LEESBURG – At the very beginning of the 2023 Ecumenical Service’s “An Evening of Christian Entertainment”, Ms. Lillian Lockette, the Mistress of Ceremony, told the audience to clap their hands and stomp their feet because she expected a great evening of gospel music.
The more than 100 attendees were not disappointed and they clapped their hands and stomped their feet at the Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Commemoration Committee (MLKCC) annual Ecumenical Service’s “An Evening of Christian Entertainment” Sunday, February 19, 2023 at the Christian Worship Center at 1414 West Main Street in Leesburg, Florida.
MLKCC is a non-profit community organization with the sole mission to keep the legacy of Dr. King alive in the minds of Lake County residents through programs and events that highlight the contributions the civil rights icon made to the country.
Taniya Sager, a Leesburg High School student, set the tone of the evening with her moving a cappella rendition of “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. Jack Hart followed with a saxophone solo of the song “Praise Is What I Do” by William Murphy.
Deacon Tony Graham, a mime artist, connected with the audience with his graceful and revealing facial gestures and body movements. Orator Bobby Lyons put the 1960’s and civil rights movement in focus with his memorable depiction of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Morrison United Methodist Church Choir looked stunning in their choir robes and aroused the audience with the classic Christian song “This Little Light of Mine.”
Vocalist Vernon Burns took us back some years when he sang the Sam Cooke classic, “A Change is Gonna Come” and Christian Worship Center’s Praise and Worship Team shut it down with two inspiring gospels pieces: “Jesus Will” by Anita Wilson and “Fight My Battles” by Michael Smith.
An award presentation by Pastor John Christian, Senior Pastor of CWC, to Pastor Ethel Badger for her endearing service to adopting and caring for over 700 children in Mt, Dora, Florida. Pastor Badger received a standing ovation from her family and the audience after her heartfelt response.
Christian Worship Center (CWC) received an award and a donation for hosting the event. Pastor Christian immediately returned the donation to the MLKCC.
In recognition of Black History Month, a list of more than 100 Black Inventors and Their Inventions was distributed to the audience, which was included in the program.
“The Spirit of God permeated the church and it was an inspiring evening”, said Pastor Christian. “The diversity of the performers and the variety of artists were indicative of Dr. King’s philosophy.”
MLKCC President Carolyn Samuel, who led the audience by singing The Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” said, “It was amazing. It was outstanding because the variety of acts displayed was diversified by talent and cultural backgrounds. In times like these, a program of this caliber helps to give us hope for the future and belief in the dream of Dr. King.”
“Thanks Ecumenical Committee for all your hard work in putting this together”, said Ms. Lillian Lockette, a MLKCC member. “The diverse performers were definitely a plus.”
Commenting on the program, Linda Cunningham said, “An awesome program.”
“Good job and a great program, Ecumenical Committee,” Martha Mitchell stated.
Pastor David Stauffer, Morrison United Methodist Church, did the invocation, Pastor James Allen, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, followed with the “Litany of Commemoration”, and Pastor Fred Miller, Mt. Pleasant AME Church, closed with the Benediction.