The Liberty County Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Association closed its days of celebration Monday afternoon with a ceremony that prompted attendees to recognize their own potential for greatness.
“Most of us miss our most productive seasons because we mismanage our pain, because we assume that pain is permission to sit down and have a pity party, but our pain was nothing more than God to promote the power that was lying dormant in you that you would have never recognized,” Bishop Leonard L. Gibbs Jr. said in his commemorative address.
“We have enough power within us to change the world around us, … He said, ‘I need a group of people that understand that within you is a divine revolutionary,” said Gibbs, who serves as pastor of Impact Temple in Towns.
The ceremony included a host of participants who offered prayers, New and Old Testament liturgies, a litany and a welcome address as well as greetings from several civic leaders.
The Liberty County MLK Mass Choir performed several selections, including a rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Following Gibbs’ remarks, MLK Observance Association Youth Committee member Anthony Johnson named the association’s award recipients while Second Vice President Kenneth Howard and President Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson presented the following awards:
• Grand Marshal Award: Willie J. McIver
McIver is a Riceboro native who currently serves as New Zion’s Sunday school superintendent emeritus and is a pillar and treasurer of the Liberty County Union Meeting. He has served New Zion in several capacities and held leadership positions on the Emancipation Proclamation Committee, Cosmopolitan Club, Limerick Lodge No. 437, the Dorchester Improvement Association and Boy Scout Troop 581.
“This award recipient has given countless years of public service to the enhancement of the lives of citizens of Liberty County,” Johnson said. “His work in the church and in the community embodies the true sense of humility and commitment. He is a quiet, yet strong, pillar of our community.”
• President’s Award: Donald Lovette
Liberty County native Lovette was selected for his multifaceted role as both a public servant and cultural cultivator who has formed local vocal and theatrical groups. In addition to being a recognized playwright and serving on the boards of education and commissioners, which he now chairs, Lovette also is involved in the Georgia Conference Sons of Allen of the AME Church, Eleven Black Men of Liberty County and more.
“Trailblazer, icon, singer, writer, producer, director, playwright, community leader, county commissioner are just a few words to describe our 2013 MLK presidential award recipient,” Johnson said. “Anyone who knows Donald knows he is a good man who has his hands in everything, so the committee has kept this secret from him for the past three months.”
• Youth Award: Elder Jerry Sapp Jr.
Born on Fort Stewart, Sapp, 19, serves as minister of music for Solid Rock’s Tabernacle of Praise in Allenhurst and the First African Baptist Church Male Choir in Riceboro. The awards biography calls him a “child prodigy” who began playing drums at Zion Temple when he was 4 years old. He holds roles with Love-It Productions, The Wings of Faith and True Voices choirs and groups. He is considering careers in nursing, counseling and music education.
“He makes his way to as many church, social and civic events as he can swing into his busy schedule,” Johnson said. “Not only is he known for his large vocals and musical skill, he is also known for his good nature and good manners.”
• MLK Award: Elder Daisy Jones
Born in Fernandina Beach, Fla., military assignments brought Jones to Hinesville in 1997. She retired as an Army lieutenant colonel in 2004 after 20 years of service. She currently oversees the Hinesville Homeless Prevention program and is a licensed evangelist since 2001. She serves with several ministries at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the MLK Observance Association and the Liberty County Homeless Coalition.
“Jones is an awesome contributor [to enhancing the volunteer organization]; Her background in journalism, public relations and administration has been a tremendous enhancement to the work and the love of the committee,” Johnson said.
• Community Service Award: Beta Gamma Gamma Chapter, Omega Psi Phi fraternity
The Beta Gamma Gamma chapter’s MLK celebration chairman, Will Jones, accepted the community service award on behalf of the fraternity, which in 2012 contributed $2,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors from nearby high schools. The group also coordinated a blood drive that produced enough blood to save 50 lives, conducted quarterly street cleanups, provided 25 Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the needy and more.
“Each year they coordinate the float competition,” Johnson said. “This act of social action fulfills one of their principles and allows the MLK committee to focus on ensuring the entire series of events are of the highest quality.”
“It was surprising, but everybody’s really excited,” Will Jones said.