Dozens filed into the tiny Buelah AME Church on West Walnut Street Monday night for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., commemoration ceremony. Now in its seventh year, this year’s program featured an essay contest for students of all ages in addition to the traditional program.
The ceremony opened with a prayer and was followed by singing from the Praise Team and members of the congregation sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Rev. George Qualley of Good Shepherd Lutheran church spoke about the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and how each of us face struggles and obstacles we must overcome before Olivia Graber performed a trumpet solo featuring old spiritual hymns.
At the conclusion of Graber’s performance, the winners of the essay contest were declared. Three winners, one from grade school, one from middle school and one from high school, each will receive a pizza party for their church group. Four runner-ups each will receive two pizzas from Papa John’s.
The essay contest was the brainchild of congregation member Bobby Brooks. The thought was that children would be learning more about Dr. King and story. All schools and area churches were notified of the contest and several entries were received by the church. Essays were judged by Steve Frette, Mary Goss, Don Spillman, and Catherine Lundergan.
Winners of the contest were Abby Otto (grade school), Jazmann Sells (junior high) and Bobbiesue Carrico (high school). Runners up were Kyra Stoll, Gretchen Brown, Emma Otto, and Grace Lawyer.
Musical selections were then performed by Richard Sworn and Rev. Tess Brooks of the Plainfield AME spoke. Offerings were collected to help with projects the church is doing in the west end. The program concluded with the singing of “We Shall Overcome” by those present.