Friends it is a pleasure to be together to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thank you to the family of Union AME and to Pastor Anne Marie Posey for organizing todays celebration. I would like to congratulate Pastor Posey on her new ministry. In the strong words of Oprah, “A new day is on the horizon” and I look forward to working with you for that cause.

Over the past year we have been celebrating the Birthday of the Village. One of the key elements throughout the year was to share our many stories through our many voices. We wanted to hear the voices of Warwick’s past, present and especially its future. Through this experience we tapped into the distinct voices that became a chorus of small town humanity. It was the beautiful voice of Elissa Jones and the sounds of The Hudson Valley Ebony Strings in this Church to celebrate our communities African American Heritage. It was our local Firemen, Educators, Farmers and Veterans at our Second Sunday Conversations so proud of their history, legacy and sharing their stories. It was our Kid Mayor, Daniel Alquezada Madero who throughout the year spoke so profoundly as a young Mexican-American about his dreams. It was a year of storytelling – some simple, some complex and everyone important and real.

What does this have to do with Dr. King?  Everything I suppose.  It was Dr. Kings determined voice that showed us the tyranny of the past, the challenge of the present and the great hope for the future. It was his voice that became the model of the strength of words followed by deeds that has given us generations of empowerment and enlightenment. His voice remains a transformative force.

2017 was also a year of remarkable challenges. On the National stage we have been reminded of the divisiveness that can occur in our United States. Voices are drowned out by chaos and mayhem.

As Warwick is a sheltering Valley, this year has proven that our own voices ring true and have arisen. It has been our conversations, our sharing, our teaching, our understanding of our commonality and our differences – voices that sing out, that laugh and that encourage.  In essence this is the promised land and the dream described by Dr. King – it is within us.

I say to you my friends that if you fill the room with love there is no room for evil! From our safe homes we have been taken time and time again to the mountain top and have been given new purpose. The purpose that I’ve begun to understand, and value is that our impact, our love, our deeds speak for a nation. Let us use Dr. Kings voice as a guiding light as we move forward and 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!