Event to remember Martin Luther King, Ted Kennedy

BY ENID WEISS Correspondent

This year the program commemorating the birthday of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at New Hope Baptist Church also will honor the memory of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

King’s actual birthday is Jan. 15, but the interfaith community celebration at New Hope will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at the church, 45 Hampton St., Metuchen. The program is co-sponsored by the New Hope Baptist Church, the Second Baptist Church of Metuchen, the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Metuchen Edison Woodbridge YMCA.

The event is dedicated to Kennedy, who died Aug. 25, due to his long-standing commitment to civil rights, including instrumental support for the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Law, said Marilyn Mathews, chairwoman of the program and a member of the New Hope Baptist Church congregation.

“Our program ‘The Dream Lives On’ is taken from a speech [Ted] Kennedy gave years ago,” Mathews said. Several children will be reciting poems and performing in the program. “I want to make sure the youth are included so they understand the sacrifices he made, what he went through. At the time he lived, a program like this never could have occurred. We have all faiths worshipping together.”

Scheduled speakers include Metuchen Mayor Thomas Vahalla, Freeholder H. James Polos, Dr. Richard Ruch of the Metuchen Reformed Church, Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth- El in Edison, and Rabbi Debra Bravo of Temple Emanu-El in Edison. The program also includes several musical selections and a dance performance.

Matthews is hoping not to repeat part of last year’s program during which a local clergyman expressed views of hate, anti- Semitism and intolerance.

“It was horrible,” Matthews said.

On Sunday, several MLK High School senior scholarships will be presented to area students nominated by clergy from the various houses of worship that participate in the annual King Day festivities. Funds for the scholarships are collected during the service as part of a free-will offering.

The Sunday program is part of a “Weekend of Celebration” honoring King. This year’s theme is “Dream of a Community United.”

Other activities include the third annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast to be held Jan. 18 at the Pines Manor, 2085 Route 27 in Edison. Musical entertainment includes a choral performance under the directorship of the Rev. Mark McCreary of the Second Baptist Church. Scheduled guest speakers include four middle school children reading their winning essays addressing the topic “What can each of us do to contribute to making a more united community?” The breakfast will feature a hot buffet and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Reservations are a must. Tickets will be required for admittance and may be purchased by visiting the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce office at 323 Main St., Metuchen, or by downloading and submitting a registration form posted on the Chamber of Commerce website, www.metuchenchamber.com. Ticket prices are $25 for adults in advance, $30 at the door; and $15 for children age 12 and under in advance, $20 at the door.