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Religion

Feeling grateful? Show it Sunday

The pastors of two Baptist churches have organized a patriotic tribute to the men and women who rescue, protect and defend.

By GAIL HOLLENBECK
Published September 10, 2005


BEVERLY HILLS - As a celebration of Patriot Day and in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Heritage Baptist Church will host "Let Freedom Ring" at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The 90-minute program will honor the nation's military members and local emergency personnel and will include patriotic songs and hymns, prayer, a dramatic reading, a choir cantata and a multimedia presentation.

The program was organized by David Hamilton, pastor of Heritage Baptist, and LaVerle Coats, pastor of Faith Baptist Church of Homosassa Springs.

"We just want to encourage the community and say thank you specifically to our police and emergency personnel," Hamilton said. "We've realized in these last few days with Hurricane Katrina the increasing importance of each one of these local services. They're invisible to our eyes sometimes in our communities until we really need them and then suddenly we realize how important they are. In a very real sense they are our local heroes. We want to say thank you to them."

Guests will include Sheriff Jeff Dawsey and his staff, representatives of all branches of the armed services, representatives of fire and emergency services, Boy Scouts and the Young Marines.

A slide presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. "There will be a patriotic slide show and some band music that will be running as people are coming in," Hamilton said. "There will be an acknowledgement of 9/11 and also of the British tragedy that happened not too long ago."

Chaplain Col. John Murdoch will be the keynote speaker. He is director of chaplaincy ministries for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, of which Heritage is a member. He is also the president of the Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America.

"Chaplain Col. Murdoch will start the program by singing God Bless America to a DVD background," Hamilton said. "He is a tremendous guy and he has a fantastic voice."

Next will come a presentation of flags by the Boy Scouts and Young Marines, the pledge of allegiance and singing of The Star-Spangled Banner.

"There will be free American flags for those that come that they can wave during the service," Hamilton said. "They will be encouraged to wave them when appropriate."

Sheriff Jeff Dawsey will be honored after the flag presentation.

"We're just saying thank you for the job that you do in Citrus County," Hamilton said. "He'll be speaking for about 10 minutes, telling us about his department and what they do."

Then emergency medical services, the Sheriff's Office, firefighters and the Florida Highway Patrol will be honored.

"The fire departments of Beverly Hills and of Pine Ridge will both be here that night," Hamilton said. "We'll name the chief and then ask them to stand. We're going to even be honoring the Citizens on Patrol around here and thanking them for the work that they do."

Next on the schedule is a dramatic reading.

""My Name Is Old Glory will be read by Mike Willis that he'll give in relationship to the flag," Hamilton said. "That will be new this year."

After Willis' reading, the combined choirs of Heritage and Faith Baptist and individuals from several Beverly Hills churches will present a 20-minute musical called The Spirit of America.

"The other thing is that we want to say thank you to our military," Hamilton said. "In the middle of our cantata there is a place for all of those involved in the military to stand. And we will be having representatives of each of the five services here in uniform. They will be bringing their service flags down to the front and have the men stand as their service hymn is played.

"Then John Murdoch will speak and we'll end with God Bless America. We started with his solo and we're going to end with everybody singing the hymn."

Hamilton said it is important to remember our heritage.

"There will be a spot where we encourage people to remember their Godly heritage, not just our political heritage," he said. "We want to build into the heart of our children a respect for our nation and an appreciation for it as well as for our Godly heritage. I think that this is a tremendous opportunity to do that."

Refreshments will follow the service.

Past patriotic services hosted by Heritage have been standing room only.

"It takes on a life of its own," Hamilton said. "The people feel very patriotic and very grateful for living in America and very thankful, and that's what we're trying to encourage."

IF YOU GO

Heritage Baptist Church will offer a Patriot Day program, "Let Freedom Ring," at 7 p.m. Sunday at the church, 2 Civic Circle, Beverly Hills. An offering will be taken during the service to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donations will be disbursed by the Salvation Army. For more information, call 746-6171.

[Last modified September 10, 2005, 01:22:18]


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