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MLK church service is Jan. 17
In the pulpit
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Celebration services in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are planned for next weekend in Liberty County.
On Jan. 17, Pastor Glenda Layton and the members St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Freedman Grove will host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program at 4 p.m. Savannah Mayor Otis S. Johnson will be the guest speaker. The theme is “Freedom — A Continued Struggle.”
Since the passage of the MLK holiday, St. James has recognized King’s birthday with a celebratory program. Many notable individuals from the community have participated as guest speakers, including Pastors J.C. Shipman, M.L. Jackson, Kevin L. Betton, Hermon Scott, Sinclair Thorne, James Evans, Chap. Kenneth Harris, Liberty County Commissioner Donald Lovette, Liberty County Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones and Marjory Varnedoe.
Otis Johnson is a Savannah native and the first African-American to graduate from Armstrong State College (now Armstrong Atlantic State University).
Before he was mayor, Johnson worked for the Economic Opportunity Authority, Model Cities Program and Savannah State University.
From 1983-88, he served as the city council representative from the second district of Savannah. He then became the executive director of the Chatham Savannah Youth Futures Authority.
In 1999, Johnson began a four-year term on the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education.
In November 2003, Johnson was elected to a four-year term as mayor of Savannah. On Nov. 6, 2007, he won a second term. Under his leadership, Savannah was declared a “Preserve America City” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  The Voices of Liberty Choir will sing at the MLK program. Longtime Liberty County resident Mrs. Mary L. Baggs of Riceboro, who will celebrate her 100th birthday in July, will be honored.
“She does not like to be recognized, but we are recognizing her for the many years of service she has so graciously given to this community,” said Gloria Robinson, MLK program chairperson. “Last year’s honoree was the late Mrs. Mattie Hicks.”
St. James AME is at 1158 Freedman Grove Road near Highway 196 East in the Freedman Grove community. For more information, call Robinson at 884-2139.
Anderson is the author of “Lack of Knowledge” and “Dare to Soar.”
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