OSSINING, N.Y. The Star of Bethlehem Church will be hosting an interfaith service Monday evening in honor of Martin Luther King Day, featuring as the keynote speaker a former prisoner who founded a non-profit organization.
"It's a community event and interfaith service that's meant to be as inclusive as possible, reflecting King's idea that we're called on to be brothers and sisters no matter where we come from or who we are," said Rev. Timothy Ives of the Scarborough Presbyterian Church who organized the event through the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Associations.
Keynote speaker Julio Medina is the founder and chief executive officer of Exodus Transitional Community, a non-profit organization founded in 1999 that works with men and women transitioning from incarceration. Medina himself served a 12-year prison sentence that strengthened his faith in God and forced him to see the layers of pain that existed within each person in prison.
"Many of the men who left prison with good intentions of remaining free returned for a variety of reasons including lack of employment opportunities, a shortage of housing and undiagnosed substance abuse issues," Medina states in a written biography on the Exodus Transitional Community website. "While incarcerated, Julio pledged to do all in his power to create a safer community and to instill hope in men and women returning home from prison."
Ives said on Martin Luther King Day, local religious leaders wanted to honor King's numerous references to "the beloved community" by "lifting up" prisoners in a maximum security prison who are "part of our community too."
Aside from Medina's key note speech, the interfaith service will also feature readings from King's writings, scripture readings, and songs sung by the Briarcliff High School chorus, the choir at Bethlehem church and the general public.
"Everybody's going to be singing Dr. King's favorite songs, 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' and 'Precious Lord,'" Ives said.
Ives estimated that several hundred people would attend the MLK interfaith service which is an annual tradition that has been going on for about 40 years.
The service begins at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at the Star of Bethlehem Church at 304 Spring St. in Ossining.
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