Kannapolis service honors King’s legacy, celebrates change

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS ó The annual Martin Luther King Unity Prayer Breakfast, held Saturday morning at Bethel Baptist Church, combined honor for King’s life and legacy with celebration of change to come.
Honoring “Community Leaders for Change,” the breakfast paid tribute to the work of seven men and women whose work betters the lives of Kannapolis residents daily.
But the 300-plus pastors, political leaders and citizens gathered at Bethel Baptist’s family life center came together for a more urgent purpose: praying for their community’s needs.
In his opening prayer, the Rev. Donald Anthony of Grace Lutheran Church called on locals to “be the conscience of God in this community, to be able to make change for good in this country.”
Seven religious leaders spoke, offering prayers for the community’s most urgent needs ó among them, new jobs, help for the area’s children and elderly and the new administration of Barack Obama.
Bethel Baptist’s senior pastor, the Rev. Bryan J. Pierce Sr., gave the keynote address.
“I’m proud to see you, the community, all gathered together for one purpose and with one mind,” Pierce said.
The seven people honored at the breakfast were hailed as examples of people bringing about positive change.
Each honoree has years of experience serving the public:
– Mike Legg, city manager of Kannapolis, was lauded for leading Kannapolis through the difficult times that have followed the closing of Pillowtex in 2003.
– Joe Littlejohn, a deacon at Rose Hill Baptist Church and youth worker at South Rowan High School, was honored for his service in those capacities.
– Nancy Litton, executive director of the Cabarrus County chapter of the American Red Cross, was praised for her assistance in responding to disasters and aiding the poor.
– Cal Morrison, community affairs director for Macedonia Baptist Church, was recognized for her work as a voter-registration organizer and volunteer with the YMCA, Big Brothers-Big Sisters and Family Promise.
– Joslin Goodman Rainey, a regional manager for the Harris-Teeter grocery store chain, was praised for her work with numerous volunteer and charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the American Heart Association and the Downtown Concord Rotary Club.
– Estelle Wiley, longtime advocate for voter registration, was honored for her work in the community and at First Baptist Church of Kannapolis.
– Ed Hosack, executive director of Cooperative Christian Ministry, was honored as representative of that charity.
CCM has provided many area families with food, fuel, crisis financial assistance and counseling in recent times of trouble.
Each of the seven honorees received a plaque.
Kannapolis Mayor Bob Misenheimer also addressed the group and presented a proclamation asking his fellow citizens to remember Martin Luther King’s legacy, and “to rededicate ourselves to the principles of justice.”
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett could not attend, but sent a similar proclamation.
The three-hour program also featured a video tribute to local leaders and King, as well as a celebration of President-elect Barack Obama.