MLK speaker: Legacy, liberation, love
Ryan Farris’s address followed the annual march from the street named for the civil rights leader to First Baptist Church, in which about two dozen people took part.
Farris is an associate minister at First Baptist Church Bracktown in Lexington and the son of Dr. Elaine Farris, who was the guest speaker at the MLK Breakfast at First Christian Church. He was introduced by First Baptist Pastor Floyd Greene as a preacher who could sing, adding,
“A preacher who can sing is like a car with a passing gear.”
Before Farris’s sermon, local politicians spoke briefly about King’s impact on them and the nation.
Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott read King’s quote, “We must accept finite disappointment, but not lose infinite hope” and scripture from Matthew that included the commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Versailles City Council Member Mike Coleman said the breakfast, march and evening service helped people talk about “things that are outside yourself – you’re talking about what a group of people can do together.”
Woodford County Magistrate Ken Reed (Dist. 4) read from a plaque inscribed with perhaps the best-known quote of King’s: “I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
State Rep. James Kay said his wife had asked him whether the service would be called off. He said he responded, “Honey, they’re not going to call off the movement. And it is a movement.”
After Kay’s remarks, which stirred many of the 30 or so in attendance, Greene jokingly asked where he’d be preaching the following Sunday.
Greene also gave Henry Duncan, a member of the Woodford County Board of Elections, an opportunity to speak. Duncan praised the day’s events, and said as the day went on, he was struck by the thought, “Votes count.” Greene responded that he planned to help organize an extensive voter registration movement soon.
Before Farris’s sermon, Greene said he’d known the Farris family since 1987, among them Ryan Farris’s father, Alvin, a retired minister.
Farris’s theme was legacy, liberation and love, and he began by quoting scripture from Proverbs about the worth of an inheritance left by a good man.
“Unlike a legal inheritance, the gift of God does not die. Yet he provides spiritual blessings for his people to inherit. So a Godly man, a righteous man, a good man, even if he doesn’t have a bankroll … he can leave an inheritance to his children’s children,” Farris said. “Yes, he can leave a treasure without having materialistic things. … We, as a people, have inherited the legacy of one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Farris said while King’s emphasis on non-violence was influenced by other leaders like Howard Thurman, Thomas Carlise and Mahatma Gandhi, his greatest influence was God.
“Dr. King stood so that we might be liberated, and he was inspired by liberation theory, liberation theology. Liberation theology suggests a need for liberation from unjust political, economic or cultural structures – those structures that destroy people,” Farris said. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have hills to climb. We shall not be considered to have gained equality until all of us are considered equal. This has been a tedious journey. It has not been easy. We have taken bumps and bruises along the way. …”
In the last few minutes of Farris’s sermon, he began to speak-sing, bringing several in attendance to their feet.
“Dr. King understood that meeting violence with violence would only set us back. My favorite quote by Dr. King says, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that,” Farris said.