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Home The Atlantic-Hub Atlantic-Hub News Pastor heeds lessons of Dr. King during YMCA breakfast event

Pastor heeds lessons of Dr. King during YMCA breakfast event

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Pastor heeds lessons of Dr. King during YMCA breakfast event

WEST LONG BRANCH – The YMCA of Western Monmouth County and The Community YMCA served as the hosts to its 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Breakfast.

“We are proud to be part of an organization that is committed to strengthening community, and there is no better message about the legacy of service than Dr. King,” Sharon Halpin, interim president and CEO of the Y of Monmouth County, said in a prepared statement.

More than 240 locals attended the organizations’ 29th annual breakfast on Jan. 15 at Branches Catering.

Pastor James “Jamie” Gates III, who has been pastoring at the New Hope Baptist Church in Toms River since November of 2014, was the keynote speaker. He is a native of Neptune, presently employed by the Newark Public School System as a journeyman in the Glaziers Local 1009, according to a prepared statement from The Community YMCA.

“Pastor Gates is well respected and came highly recommended to us,” said Lorna Rifkin, the YMCA of Monmouth County’s marketing and communications director.

“I accepted the invitation to be the keynote speaker, because I thought it would be an honor to be able to share some of my thoughts about Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was the drum major for justice, peace, righteousness and equality,” Gates said.

In his speech titled “We’ve Come A Long Way But We Still Have A Ways To Go,” Gates said that King was a blessed man, but he was not going to use his privileges just for himself.

“He made many sacrifices because he was concerned that others were suffering. Dr. King talked about ‘the fierce urgency of now,’ and when there was social injustice he felt the need to act,” Gates said. “When he looked upon this nation, he not only saw the challenges but also extraordinary opportunities. He saw infinite possibilities and he saw clearly that for every individual to be free, for our founding ideals to be realized, our entire society had to be transformed.”

Gates said that King addressed the darkness of the United States during his time because he could not take it anymore.

“He got agitated and aggravated and used his hunger for justice, his thirst for peace and his empathy for others to motivate his lifelong struggle to ensure equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity. [King] began to speak power to the powerless which were people of color that were denied access to educational opportunities, good jobs and the ballot box,” Gates said.

Gates said that like King, people today must get agitated.

“You do recognize that is what you have in a washing machine. Every washing machine has an agitator because when the stain is too entrenched, when the stain is too great, you cant just have some liquid solution, you got to have some agitation,” Gates said. “That’s what we got to do, get agitated about poverty, get agitated about injustice, agitated about bullying, agitated about gang violence and drug activity in our streets.”

Gates ended his speech by saying that King thought about the future of others after him, and referred to a public restroom sign he once saw that asked users to keep it clean.

“In other words, keep in mind that somebody has to come behind you. Don’t leave it a mess. Leave it better than you found it as a courtesy to those who are coming up next,” Gates said. “It was Dr. King who said in one of his last sermons, ‘If I can help somebody as I travel along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.’ Remember, we’ve come a long way, but we still got a ways to go.”

After Gates’s speech, the two winners of the Y’s annual essay contest read their winning essays.

The Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association sponsored the Community YMCA Essay Winner, Edgar Alexis of Academy Charter High School, and Hackensack Meridian Health sponsored YMCA of Western Monmouth County Essay Winner Andre Douyan of Freehold Township High School, according to Community YMCA’s Director of Marketing and Social Media Teicia Gaupp.

Edgar and Andre both received a one-year membership to the Y and a $500 educational scholarship provided by the organization’s partners, according to Gaupp.

For more information about The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, visit www.cymca.org/about-us/ or www.ymcanj.org/about/ respectively.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.