HAMILTON - Early Thursday morning a powerful force drew 400 friends, acquaintances and strangers to laugh, cry, sing and dine together.
Those 400 people, many of them elected officials or leaders in the government, service and faith communities, left with a powerful message from a notable speaker.
"Be bold, and do what's right. (You) have a lot of support from heaven and each other," said Dr. Alveda C. King, keynote speaker for the Butler County Commissioners annual Prayer Breakfast at the Hamiltonian Hotel.
King is the niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and daughter of slain civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and his wife Naomi Barber King.
Alveda King, pastoral associate for Priests for Life, founded King for America Inc. to assist people in enriching their lives spiritually, personally, mentally and economically.
Among the many hats she wears are that of minister, activist, professor, author, actress, songwriter and mother.
She once served in the Georgia State House of Representatives, she has a law degree, and she believes one of the most pressing civil rights issues today is protecting the lives of the unborn.
On Thursday, King engaged the audience through stories and humor. She then led the crowd in a rendition of The Lord's Prayer that brought some to tears as the voices resonated through the room.
King, 54, who was born in Alabama, recalled joining her father and uncle on marches during the civil rights movement. She recited a line from a song of that time: "Oh freedom over me. I'm no longer a slave," and said it is still relevant today in a different way.
Back then, the song dealt with battling the forces of racism, King said. Today freedom means having the right to say God we praise, she said.
We have the right to read the Bible and express it. We've got to be bold and balanced and Bible-based in our messages, she said.
King, who had two abortions before being reborn in her faith in 1983, urged the crowd to stand up for the sanctity of marriage and the right to life. She now has six children, she said.
King also addressed the political leaders in the group, telling them to speak out for what is right, even if it is not what's popular, and telling the faith community to support them. If you are in a setting where you say I know what's right and I want to do it, but if I speak I may lose my position and I may not be reelected or reappointed, this is the time for the church, the ministers ... to encourage your people to say We'll support you, King said. We will make sure you are reelected. Do the work of the Lord without fear. We must. This is that day, she said.
The county's Prayer Breakfast marked National Day of Prayer during which events are held across the nation. In Butler County, Probate Court Judge Randy Rogers and his wife Nancy have organized the annual breakfasts since 1989. The breakfast included prayers by local church leaders and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by several local members of the armed forces.
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