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Groups commemorate loss of MLK with film, discussion

SALISBURY — No one wants to hear a gunshot ring out. But the ringing of a bell is something else.

With a spirit of hope and warning, people gathered Wednesday at Hood Seminary’s Aymer Center to commemorate the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago.

Covenant Community Connection, in collaboration with Center for Faith & the Arts and Hood Theological Seminary, organized the viewing of a film and a discussion afterwards.

Hood President Dr. Vergel Lattimore offered the opening prayer.

Cinema CFA, a program of Center for Faith & the Arts, presented the documentary, “Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader.” 

Born on a former slave plantation in 1916, farmer James Henry Jones emerged as a trailblazer during the 1969 school desegregation crisis in Northampton County, leading the fight to end nearly a century of inequality in education for black children.

Following the film, Rev. Thomas Grinter of Hood Theological Seminary facilitated a panel discussion of the church’s role in the 21st century struggle for justice. Panelists included Teresa Rowell, a founding member of the Salisbury Gathering of the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, and Pastor Anthony Smith of Mission House.

Audience members addressed topics ranging from equality in education, judicial and economic justice to strategic community engagement.

The importance of ongoing, critical examination of the church’s role in both supporting and hampering social justice progress was emphasized.

Betty Jo Hardy, a founding member of Covenant Community Connection, presented a bell ringing ceremony, as requested by The King Center in Atlanta.

The ceremony began with words about the distinct sound of a ringing bell:

“It can resound with hope. It can sound a warning. Traditionally, bells have been rung as a call to worship, a call to action or an alert of danger. The call has come to ring the bells of churches, city halls, and schools across this land.”

Bells rang at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday across the country — from the National Cathedral in Washington, the University of Chicago, Boston’s Old North Church and cathedrals in Europe older than this country. The bell rang from Salisbury’s Bell Tower, and recognized by Mayor Al Heggins.

“As you hear the bell ringing here tonight, our prayer is that you will hear the sound of hope, the call to action and the warning to be alert.”

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