EVERETT — People must keep reaching for their dreams, and they must keep working to improve their lives and the lives of others around them, the Rev. Stanley Ponder told the crowd at the Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church in Everett on Sunday.
Ponder, an associate minister with the Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church who serves on the USS Nimitz, was one of several speakers at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration hosted by Spirit of Grace.
Ponder shared an allegory about a little boy in the south who wanted to catch a lightning bug. The boy became frustrated but eventually caught one of the luminescent insects in his jar, as his friends had done.
Like that lightning bug in a jar on a dark night, a dream always will carry people back home, Ponder said. They must be patient, even when others receive blessings and they themselves feel empty-handed.
“The dream can be frustrating,” Ponder said. “If you just keep on reaching, you’re going to catch your dream.”
The crowd filled the pews at Spirit of Grace at 3530 Colby Ave., many still in their church clothes from Sunday services. Mothers held onto squirming toddlers, and families and friends embraced each other, at times standing to clap and sing along with the service. Some donned Seahawks jerseys, and plenty of football jokes were shared — many with themes of helping others and perseverance.
In the invocation, the Rev. Jude Albert reminded people that King’s life was sacrificed for his dream.
People are asked “to carry out and carry on this dream, this dream of unity and of love,” Albert said.
The Rev. Darryn Hewson, of Spirit of Grace, said people must not rest in their gratitude to saints and heroes. They must try to do more, and build on the work of those who came before, including King, he said.
“The reality is that we are all still trying to live in that legacy,” Hewson said.
King taught that education was a path to equality, and that message still matters, said Snohomish County Executive John Lovick.
Several of the speakers stressed the importance of education as a means to overcome the barriers of poverty, unemployment and poor access to housing. They shared their own struggles in past years, and the struggles of their parents and grandparents.
“I see a lot of people who are still dealing with discrimination and racism,” said Janice Greene, chairwoman of the Snohomish County chapter of the NAACP. “Let’s not forget that the struggle still exists.”
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Julie Hampton, of Seattle International Church. Hampton graduated from Everett High School in the 1980s. She remembers growing up when there were only a few black families in town. Her generation looked up to the first black teachers, the first black City Council members, she said.
“When God gives you a dream and a purpose, no one can stop it,” Hampton said.
There has been progress made, and people need to keep moving in the right direction for more, Hampton said. They must invest in their children, and make sure that children understand the work done by the civil rights leaders of generations past.
People must continue to build on that work, she said. They must help others with their own dreams, and be careful to keep dreams safe from those who would stand in the way.
“Sometimes opposition is a form of opportunity,” she said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.