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Flatbush Seventh-day Adventist Church hosts MLK service of hope & healing

8-Year-Old Re-creates King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

January 19, 2015 By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Left to right: Pastor Rohann D. Wellington, moderator; Dr. Allen Martin, Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church; NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker; Pastor Shane Vidal, Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church; U.S. Reps Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke; and Pastor Gilford Monrose, president of the 67th Precinct Clergy Association. Eagle photos by Francesca Norsen Tate

Declaring that “All Lives Matter” and that having to choose between respect for the police over civil rights is a “false choice,” faith leaders joined members of the NYPD and elected officials for a Service of Hope and Healing at the Flatbush Seventh-day Adventist Church. The program incorporated a press conference, worship and a panel discussion.

The tone was set during the press conference and opening moments of the worship service, in which clergy and elected leaders reiterated the need for citizens, their elected leaders and the police to join forces to end the conflict that has afflicted New York City recently. The Rev. Dr. Daniel Honore, president of the Northeastern Conference, Seventh-day Adventists, said, “it is in our interests to unite. Dr. King has stated that `unless we live together as brothers, we will perish together as fools.’” Dr. Honore spoke on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and co-sponsor Dr. G. Earl Knight, president of the Greater New York Conference.

Acknowledging the deaths and tragedies both of citizens in police custody and of NYPD officers in the line of duty, Dr. Honore said, “We find all of this unacceptable. We have been presented with a false choice: Either we support community rights and civil rights, or we support the police. This is a false choice and we reject it. We support the civil rights of our young people and of our citizens; and at the same time we respect, and denounce any violence against, the police officers who risk their lives to protect our citizens. Today we hope to pray and to bring our city together.”

Although Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Eric Adams were expected to share remarks, neither could attend due to other events honoring the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Representing NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton was First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who spoke poignantly about his own career as a policeman. He shared the panel discussion with Congressmembers Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries; Dr. Allen Martin of Bethel Church; Pastor Shane Vidal of Maranatha Church, and the moderator, Pastor Rohann Wellington. Pastor Michael Coleman led the Prayer for Civic Leaders and Law Enforcement.

Perhaps the day’s major highlight came from a child. Nathanael McKenzie recited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, with great passion, projection, and mostly from memory, only occasionally consulting his notes. He received an extended standing ovation.

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