Story by Sara Paul
Cheers, applause and the roars of “Amen” filled the Union African Methodist Episcopal (UAME) Church in the Village of Warwick on Mon., Jan. 15 as approximately 300 community members, clergy and elected officials participated in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Observance Day.
UAME Church Pastor Rev. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison Posey welcomed guests to the day’s event, themed “A Voice Through the Ages” and Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnet gave the Invocation. Sister Channabel Latham-Morris also welcomed the standing room only crowd and several elected officials addressed attendees. Rev. Teresa Meli delivered the scripture readings.
Warwick Village Mayor Michael Newhard congratulated Rev. Bentsi-Addison Posey on her ministry and said he is looking forward to working with the Church in the future. He urged, “Let us use Dr. King’s voice as a guiding light as we move forward. Let the voices of small town humanity, humility and love fill every room of every home in our nation. Thank you Dr. King and happy birthday.”
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, Doug Stage, Cedric Gasper, Rev. Tim Anderson, and Judge Peter Barlet also gave remarks.
A “Praise Dance” was performed by The Union’s Anointed & Doxology Praise Teams, coordinated by Dance Ministry Leader Dorothy Robinson and music was provided by the Hudson Valley Ebony Strings, the Bellvale School Children’s Choir, the First Baptist Church Choir with Todd Gooden on piano, and Brother Tony Smith on saxophone.
Isaiah Huff, a young member of the Church who lives with sickle cell anemia, spoke about his disease, noting that instead of allowing his illness to limit his activity, he provides service to the community, performing such kind acts as bringing toys and books to children in hospitals. Huff reminded the audience that, “We all have a dream.”
Another member of the church, N’darri Bentsi-ddison Posey, daughter of the Rev. Bentsi-Addison Posey, also spoke from the perspective of a young girl, declaring, “I am the dream! We will change tomorrow!” N’darri emphasized the importance of young people becoming involved in change and in significant events in society, proclaiming that, “one small voice can make a difference!”
Brother Justin Kirton spoke on the “Voice of the Millenials,” saying, “We must be able to listen to one another… Do not fear the difference; embrace the debates.”
He was followed by Sister Raza “Ayanna” Ram who provided personal reflections in the “Voice of Generation X.”
The featured speaker at the service was Rev. Dr. Richard C. Chapple, who delivered his sermon, “Speaking truth to alternative facts.” Reading from Luke 4:1-14, Rev. Chapple, the senior pastor of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Manhattan, stressed the importance of the advocacy of the African American religious community as well as the importance of access for everyone to all things in America such as education and employment, to name a few, and finally, the importance of spending time with God.
Rev. Bentsi-Addison Posey concluded the almost three hour celebration with “The Call to Action,” where she asked, “How do you define peace?,” and reminded all that there is still a lot of work to do in the efforts towards equality.
Other local officials attending the service were Town Justice Nancy DeAngelo and Town Councilman Floyd DeAngelo. All were invited after the service to a luncheon.