During his speech Saturday morning at the annual Martin Luther King Day Prayer Breakfast in the Christian Life Center at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge, the Rev. Bill Kerns listed a few statistics from the life of the slain civil rights leader.
"He traveled 6 million miles, gave 2,500 speeches, wrote five books, won the Nobel Peace Prize, received 20 honorary degrees, was arrested 30 times, stabbed once and his home was bombed with his wife and children inside." he said.
Kerns brought the message that King's ideals and goals are for everyone.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Members of the Divine Youth, including Breonnah Al-Hameed, 15, of Fort Dodge, center, celebrate Saturday morning during a performance at the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day Prayer Breakfast in the Christian Life Center of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge.
"Martin Luther King Day is not just for minorities," he said. "It's a day for all people, he believed that all people should prosper and all people should be treated fairly."
He also reminded the several hundred guests where Dr. King's perspective came from.
"Martin Luther King's ideals were as a man of God." he said. "He reminded us that we are all God's children."
Community Service Awards
Steve Roe, executive director of the Beacon of Hope.
Bruce Hartley, principal at Feelhaver and Riverside Elementary Schools.
Pride In Community Appearance (PICA)
Fort Dodge Ford Toyota
Each is recognized for their contributions to the community.
Kerns said further that King's nonviolent methods offered further evidence of that.
"He showed us that the power of Gods love and grace will always win." he said.
Kerns mentioned King's famous "I Have a Dream," speech, one of recent history's most recognized pieces of oratory.
"It's not just eloquent words," he said. "It was a call to action."
While almost 50 years have passed since King gave that speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, Kerns said his legacy continues to this day.
He said he sees it in local organizations such as Athletics For Education and Success, Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, Pride In Community Appearance and local businesses that, "Give back because it's the right thing to do."
Of course, perhaps because, well, that's what a minister does, Kerns had all the guests stand up.
"Now give yourself a big round of applause for the work you do," he said, "You may now be seated."
The Rev. Jeff Martin, pastor of First Presbyterian, which hosts the event, grew up in the deep south.
He likes to see King's ideals being continued today.
"It's an earnest attempt to allow all our ideals to be lifted above race while we work for equality for all," he said.
An event like Saturday's gathering?
"This is a marvelous opportunity to see how we're doing," he said. "Our race should not separate us."
Connell Ector, of Carrollton, Ga., is a student at Iowa Central Community College. It was his first chance to attend Fort Dodge's event.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," he said, "I enjoyed it."
He attends celebrations in his hometown as well.
"We have a parade and church celebrations," he said.
During the breakfast, members of the AFES Community Choir and the AFES Divine Youth sang and danced. Several awards were also presented to community groups in recognition of their service.
Before he left for the day, Rev. Bill Kerns left a few things behind from the congregation of the former First Christian Church, a check for $7,600 for AFES and another identical check for the Living the Dream Committee.
He also had some last minute words.
"The dream did not die on the day MLK was assassinated," he said, "It continues to this day here in Fort Dodge."
Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org