Dr. Jonathan “Jay” C. Augustine featured speaker at Martin Luther King, Jr. Worship Service at Chowan University
On Monday, January 17, Chowan University Campus Ministry was pleased to host a worship service to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event featured guest speaker, Dr. Jonathan “Jay” C. Augustine. Dr. Augustine is the senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, NC, as well as a law professor at North Carolina Central University. At Duke University Center for Reconciliation, Dr. Augustine serves as a missional strategist.
The service began with a welcome from Dr. Montrose Streeter, Vice President of Student Affairs, who reminded attendees of the origin and intent of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Following Dr. Streeter’s remarks, Coach Colin Neely, Football Defensive Coordinator, gave the invocation. Staff pianist Dejaun Lee and Minister of Engagement Calvin Carter led in worship with musical selections: There is a Balm in Gilead, Give me Jesus, and Here’s One. Freshman and Ear2Hear leader Savion Taylor led a prayer for justice, and Student Body President Zyon Pye read Amos 5:18-27.
Before Dr. Jay Augustine came to the podium, Minister to the University, Rev. Mari Wiles, gave a heartfelt introduction sharing that Dr. Augustine is a “pastor, professor and prophet. He is a truth-teller and lifelong learner” and that he “is challenging injustices in the church and in our culture.” Additionally, Wiles shared other notable accomplishments from his biography.
In his remarks titled “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” Dr. Augustine masterfully wove words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and from scripture. He cited Exodus 14:5-8, where Pharoah reconsiders freeing the Hebrews and desires to re-enslave them. The other primary text was from Dr. King’s speech to “Clergy and Laity concerned about Vietnam,” which was given at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, exactly a year before King was assassinated. Dr. Augustine’s title and theme came from King’s quote, ‘’We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.”
Dr. Augustine’s lecture-sermon noted the parallels between the experience of the Hebrews fleeing from Pharaoh’s oppression to the present-day African-American experience. And throughout his remarks, he echoed King’s call for the “fierce urgency of now.” and urged all to keep fighting for justice as King so bravely did in his day.
After Dr. Augustine’s passionate appeal, the service concluded with senior and Student Ministry Chaplain Diamond Martin giving the benediction. Students and guests were then invited to receive autographed copies of Dr. Augustine’s latest book, “Called to Reconciliation: How the Church can Model Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion.”