Keynote speaker Rev. Joseph Lowery reminded listeners of the difference between charity and love at the 20th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. community breakfast on Monday, Jan. 18.
The program was hosted for the first time at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale as well as Augustana Lutheran Church, Mount Olivet Baptist Church, and White Bear Unitarian-Universalist Church in Mahtomedi.
Singing and dancing to Dream from the Mountaintop by William Pitts, the choir and youthful praise dancers at Guardian Angels Church set the mood for Rev. Lowery’s address. His talk beamed live from the Minneapolis Convention Center, the 89-year-old Lowery, veteran of civil rights struggles when he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., engaged listeners with his usual bantering style.
Between poking good-natured fun at himself and various others, Lowery inserted several thought-provoking gems guaranteed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Lowery said Dr. Martin Luther King Day honors the mission as well as the man, reminding us of the “efficacy of non-violent militancy.”
Lowery went on to instruct his listeners on the difference between charity and love. “Love is stronger than charity,” he said. He explained that charity might give you a fish, but love will help you buy your own fishing equipment, teach you how to fish, and make sure the water is pure where you’ll be fishing.”
“Love is inclusive,” Lowery explained, “charity may or may not embrace justice; love always embraces justice. And he said, “Charity is seasonal, but love is everlasting.”
Rev. Lowery gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration and in 2009, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The program included a freewill offering that Guardian Angels Church donated to two local non-profit organizations that exemplify the difference between charity and love. The Conway-Battle Creek Living at Home/Block Nurse program provides services to area seniors; Tubman (formerly the Tubman Family Alliance or Chrysalis) offers families in distress safe shelter, legal services, counseling and therapy, youth and family support as well as community education.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast is a cooperative effort of the General Mills Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, Twin Cities Public Television, and the St. Paul Area of Council of Churches.
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St. Paul Progressive Spirituality Examiner