Dyess chaplain memorializes King at ACU ceremony

Senior Staff Writer, Abilene Reporter News

Some called him the nation's chief civil rights leader, others a man of vision.

But by every definition Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet, cut from the same stuff as the men of the Old Testament, Lt. Col. Richard L. Blanton said during Monday's chapel service at Abilene Christian University.

Just like those prophets, King was called for a divine mission and he had no choice but to answer God's call.

"They did not seek employment with a resume in hand," Blanton said.

Blanton, chaplain for the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, was guest speaker for the service that recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Old Testament prophets heard God's call and responded, even though they felt insufficient for the task.

They often were called to preach an unpopular message, extolling people to repent of their sins and follow God's ways.

Just like those prophets couldn't sweeten their message, neither could King, he told the students.

Prophets throughout the ages, down to King, have been scorned and even persecuted for their message, Blanton said.

"Yet always their fear of man had to be superseded by their much greater fear of God," he said.

Blanton called King a "20th-century major prophet" who eventually lost his life in a struggle to attain higher ideals.

But from the beginning of his calling, King knew what he must do, Blanton said, no matter the danger.

It was no accident, Blanton said, that King was pastor of a church in Montgomery, Ala., when a black woman named Rosa Parks was made to sit at the back of a bus.

Seminary trained, eloquent and respected, King could have lived a life of ease in Montgomery, but he couldn't deny his call to be a prophet, Blanton said.

"He had to be obedient to the call of God," Blanton said. "He had to prick the conscience of Am-erica."

Blanton said that although he sees disturbing signs in American culture, he believes King's dream is slowly coming to fruition.

King realized his mission was bigger than one man, Blanton said, and knowing that helps others continue the struggle.

"The Lord stands for justice and will not forsake the righteous," Blanton said.

"God can bring about peace even in the midst of chaos."

But God needs the help of people who hear his call, Blanton said, and he encouraged the students to continue the work King started.

"We can pray as if everything depends on God," he said, "but we must also work as if everything depends on us."

Loretta Fulton can be reached at 676-6778 or fultonl@abinews.com.

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