by Kate Capodanno
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Westfield held its twenty-sixth Annual Interfaith Commemorative Service at the First Congregational Church on Jan. 21.
The service was open to people from Westfield and surrounding communities. This year, the service included a panel of speakers who each spoke on the theme of the Power of Unity. The panel included Rev. Ronald Allen of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Summit, Westfield School
District’s Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan, Westfield Rescue Squad Captain Reid Edles, Westfield Councilman Mr. David Haas, Westfield Resident Mr. Norward Harris and Rabbi Douglas Sagal of Temple Emanu-El.
According to the MLK Association President Mr. Donnell Carr, the service usually includes a keynote speaker, but this year, in accordance with the Power of Unity theme, the Association thought that it only natural to include a panel of speakers.
Edles said, “The speakers are from different parts of the community” and as a member of the Westfield Rescue Squad, he gave a lot a thought about “how the theme of the day relates to volunteerism.”
This is the first time Edles is participating in this event, but other speakers have been involved for many years. “In the past, I have participated by reading from scripture,” said Sagal. “This is the first time I have been actually asked to speak at the event.”
Sagal addressed the theme by “talking about Dr. King’s beliefs in what he called the beloved community.” He said, “What I always hope to get out of this event is kind of a renewed commitment on the part of all of us to work on the ideals of Dr. King.”
The event also honored students in elementary and middle school who composed essays, poems or artwork that addressed the theme unity.
“Each year, we have a unique theme that is usually derived from one of Dr. King’s quotes,” said Chairperson of the Essay, Poetry and Art Contest Ms. Elizabeth Wolf. “We are looking that [contestants] hit the theme and that they put a little thought into what Dr. King’s thoughts would be.”
According to Carr, the goal of the event is to continue inspiring people “by the life and legacy of Dr. King.” And as the congregation stood hand in hand singing “We Shall Overcome” the service ended in unity.