Civil Rights icon and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery will be the keynote speaker at the Sesquicentennial Emancipation Proclamation Community Worship Service hosted at Springfield Baptist on Dec. 30, at 4:30 p.m.
The service, sponsored by PACT (Pastoral Accountability for Covenant Truth), an interdenominational association of about 20 Rockdale pastors, is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, and the eventual emancipation of approximately 4 million slaves in the U.S. at the time.
Springfield Baptist Pastor Eric Lee said, "It's a blessing to be able to bring him to our community once again. We're excited about him coming.
We would hope that a celebration such as this would be considered an American celebration. With the movie "Lincoln" coming out at the same time as the Sesquicentennial Emancipation Proclamation celebration, it's a fruitful time for us to talk to each other.
"This is a time when we're still politically divided. Rockdale is a reflection of what we're seeing on the national level."
"A part of this divide is exacerbated by the fact that we don't talk to each other. We're not in communication with each other," said Lee. "We need to be able to understand one another."
Pastor Aldren Sadler Sr., a member of PACT, said the 1.5-year-old network had done a few smaller events but felt the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was a milestone.
Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 with his friend and colleague Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Before that, Lowery, who was born in Huntsville, Ala., headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, the movement that led to the desegregation of buses and public accommodations.
He was hailed as the "Dean of the Civil Rights Movement" upon his receipt of the NAACP's "Lifetime Achievement Award."
In August 2009, Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Prior to that, on Jan. 20, 2009, Lowery gave the Benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th President of the United States.
The Sesquicentennial Emancipation Proclamation Community Worship Service, a joint service, will be hosted by the Springfield Baptist Church at 1877 Iris Drive, on Sunday, Dec. 30, at 4:30 p.m. All are invited and admission is free. The doors will open at 4 p.m.