A Spark Of Unity
By Reverend Jerry Artis
As we know, February is Black History Month. It is a month dedicated to the rich, painful, yet glorious history of our people, that is part and parcel of the fabric that is our nation.
On Feb. 7, 2013, Superintendent James Polansky opened our school, Jack Abrams, to our community still in mourning because of the closing of its doors to our children, to host the Town of Huntington’s salute to Black History Month. Please note that attendance was near capacity.
Jillian Guthman-Abadom, Esq, Director OF Human Services did great as mistress of ceremony. Included in the service was The national anthem, a heartfelt rendition led by Rev. Jerry Artis, the Negro national anthem beautifully led by Kalif Jones, of Walt Whitman High School. The invocation by Rev. Dr. Larry Washington, took us back to our religious roots. The Town Supervisor, Frank P. Petrone gave words of encouragement, as he introduced the Councilpersons, beginning with Mark Cuthbertson, who each in turn introduced each other, Councilwoman Susan A. Berland, Councilmen Mark Mayoka and Eugene Cook, each in their own way gave positive words of encouragement.
There was a wonderful theatrical performance from the youth of Huntington Outreach Ministry, under the direction of Rev. Artis and Pastor Bernadette Watkins, a great solo by Peggy Primm, of Will Ford Feed the People’s Ministry. We were blessed with two selections from the Voices of Faith Missionary Youth Choir, under the leadership of Minister Timothy Flythe. The stirring introduction of the keynote speaker was done by former Huntington Councilwoman, Glenda Jackson, herself, forever a part of Huntington’s History as the first Black Councilperson in over three and a half centuries. Then there was Suffolk County Legislator, William R. Spencer, M.D., who gave an inspirational, strong, unifying keynote address entitled, ‘We The People. Finally, Dr. Washington gave us the benediction and blessed the good food provided, as we fellowshipped with joy and pride.
It doesn’t end there! On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, our Local Pastoral Association is having their Black History Service hosted by Bishop Joseph Usry, at Usry Temple, located on 11th Ave., at 7:30 p.m.
On Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, 3:00 p.m., at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Rev. Jerry Artis and his congregation of Love of Christ Fellowship Church, are having their Black History Service.
On Feb. 28, 2013, the TriCYA of Huntington Station is having their Black History Program.
Even after all these events are gone, the flames of unity shall continue on. Our children need to know that there are great alternatives to the negativity they see on television or in the wrong music. They need to be saturated with love, care, guidance, and inspiration, to reach the highest heights. They need to take pride in themselves, their culture, while respecting their fellowman, and learning a sense of community, through God, education, and family.
When we think of fire, we usually think of its destructive devastation, and the sorrow it leaves in its wake. The fire I’m alluding to is spiritual, inspiring, and the total opposite of the destructive fire. Both fires have the same common denominator. Both start with a ‘spark’, in this case, The Spark of Unity.
On Feb. 5, 2013, 10:00 a.m., at the Huntington Station Enrichment Center, area Pastors met with members of the Huntington Chapter of the NAACP. We all realized we had common goals for the uplifting and vitalization of our community, which we all love. We kindled a spark of unity, to cause a fire of positivity, love, cooperation, renewal, respect, achievement, and pride in our community, a fire we hope to spread to each and everyone, in every walk of life.
To be sure, we realize there is much work to be done. We have already seen immediate fruits of our work, for in large part, we helped to urge our community to fill Jack Abrams to near capacity. This is only the beginning, but a good beginning.
A spark of Unity, a flame of progress and pride, remember these three things about “our” fire.
1. Fire illuminates, through the darkness of despair, giving hope.
2. Fire warms, through the bitter cold of oppression, repression, and injustice, to comfort you, through the strength of righteousness and validation.
3. Fire purifies, burning away all deceit, negativity, and evil intentions, to reveal the preciousness of truth and value.
So you see, this Spark of Unity is long overdue, and the ensuing purging fire is what we all need. Don’t be left out in the cold. Come into the warmth of our fire.
Photo above: Left to right – Al White, D. Thompson, Bishop Lionel Smith, Betty Miller, Rev. Jerry Artis. Back Row left to right – Bishop Joseph Usry, Dr. Rev. Larry Washington, Rev. Luone Rouse.