By Melanie Morrow
Special to the Advocate
As long as there has been a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Jackson, the Rev. Keith Tonkel and Jim Young, his pastoral assistant, have served in the ministry of presence.
Tonkel, pastor of Wells United Methodist Church on Bailey Avenue in Jackson, and Young have lived the dream.
“We decided that it would be a good thing for us to be a part of the MLK parade since we are a part of the community,” Tonkel said. “Historically, we were a white congregation and we want everybody to know that Dr. King speaks for all of us and to all of us and that it was important for there to be some people present and taking part who believe in his way of changing things. Peaceful, committed compassionate way of getting change done.”
Said Young: “It’s just we need to make a statement that Dr. King was for all the people not just a black thing. We need a white presence in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade. He was talking about a better world for all people and a better life for all people. That is why I am in this parade.”
Wells Associate Pastor the Rev. Michelle Shrader said, “I think the parade is a great way to show God’s love to all people and it’s great to see all these kids out here because they are the hope of our world. That is why I love being a part of this being able to connect with these children who one day are going to lead us in a new direction.”
Mario Nichols, a part of the Wells Youth Group who lives in theGeorgetown area, also took part in the parade.
People make the Georgetown area seem like it’s all bad and what not but it’s not as bad as you actually think it is because where I live it’s very quite nothing really happens,” he said. “They say the same thing about Lanier High School but once you enter the doors you find a lot of smart people including me. It’s all good.
“If you do the smallest thing it could be a big thing for the community. Like cleaning up that’s something big and visiting other people. Wells does a good job with the food pantry. Wells does take part in the community and they are a part of the Georgetown community. I am glad to say that Wells United Methodist Church is my church.”