The Rev. Otis Moss and the Rev. James Lawson will speak in Augusta next week at Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.
The Rev. Moss, the son of a civil rights leader, and the Rev. Lawson, a giant of the era himself, are the perfect representatives to present, and they encourage others to follow Dr. King's commitment to nonviolence and equality, said local organizers of the events.
"Moss has become a young Martin Luther King," said Sid Gates, a founder of Augusta's Progressive Religious Coalition, the group that is sponsoring an interfaith birthday observance Thursday.
The Rev. Moss was pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta before moving to Chicago to take the reins at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where President Obama and his family were members.
Dr. King's actual birthday, Jan. 15, falls on a Friday this year, so the observance was moved up a day out of respect for the Jewish community's Shabbat. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh representatives are expected to participate.
Several groups are coming together to present the event with the Rev. Lawson, a United Methodist pastor and professor whom Dr. King once called "the leading nonviolence theorist in the world."
Paine College, Augusta Technical College, Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia will be hosts of the service Friday at Paine College.
King Day events allow groups to "transcend our differences," said Rabbi Robert Klensin, of Congregation Children of Israel, where Thursday's event will be held.
"This is such a diverse community. We wanted more people included, and that's why the event looks the way it does," he said. "Dr. King stood and marched with people from all walks of life."
The message, Rabbi Klensin added, is just as timely now as it was then.
"It's still so very important to us in this world today," he said. "The theme is Keeping the Dream Alive: Why Dr. King Still Matters. We have come a long way, but we still have a lot to do in this country and community."
The events, then, become "more than celebrations," said Mike McCollum, a member of the coalition. "It's not just a birthday party. We review his ideas and philosophy and how it applies today to our lives. If our eyes are open, we'll see that it does. It has to."
Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
King Birthday Observance
What: The Rev. Otis Moss III will speak at a multifaith event sponsored by Augusta's Progressive Religious Coalition
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Congregation Children of Israel, 3005 Walton Way Extension
Call: (706) 736-3140
Martin Luther King Day Celebration
What: The Rev. James Lawson will speak at an event held by Paine College, Augusta Technical College, Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia.
When: Noon Friday
Where: Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel, 1235 15th St., Augusta
Call: (706) 396-7591