Jan. 16—DANVILLE — The MLK Community Wide Celebration Service on Monday, sponsored annually by the MLK Jr. Celebration Committee, was a fitting setting for a tribute to longtime committee chairwoman Mary Thompson.
Thompson served 25 years as committee chairwoman, and it was her idea 28 years ago to have scholarships in Dr. King's name for graduating local high school students at the annual MLK Celebration.
MLK Program Chairwoman Sandra Finch said the committee and community honor Mary's commitment, dedication and service to the MLK Committee and this community.
"We love you and thank you for your 25 years of service to the committee and over 30 years of service to this community," Sandra told Mary.
After also being presented with a bouquet of flowers, Mary told the group gathered for the MLK Celebration at St. James United Methodist Church on Monday, "Thank God for all of you. I couldn't have done it without your help."
Monday's frigid single-digit temperatures had some pastors joking about this being Danville, Alaska, not Illinois, or the weather being more typical at the North Pole.
The MLK Celebration Committee, which seeks to honor Dr. King's legacy, canceled the motorcade/parade that usually occurs prior to the church service.
Those gathered at the service heard rousing musical selections by the MLK Ensemble, a solo by Mrs. PJ Bourn, and messages about this year's celebration service theme "Cultivating Joy" from Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and from keynote speaker Rev. Katrese Kirk McKenzie, Itinerant Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and member of the Chicago Conference.
Katrese, now living in Chicago, is a Danville native and was the recipient of the MLK Scholarship in 2000.
Katrese spoke about people serving their community and using their God-given gifts, "use what you got," so Dr. King's dream can become a reality.
She said the MLK Scholarship played a part and "exposed me to more."
Katrese said to this year's MLK Scholarship recipient, Davari Boyd, there's more in store for him too.
Katrese told those in attendance at the celebration that she wonders how people can drive through the same neighborhoods, live in the same community, see the change that needs to happen, but wait for someone else to try to fix the problems.
She said no matter one's job, Dr. King said, "no work is insignificant."
She said everyone has something to offer.