The public is invited to share in the 2019 National Martin Luther King Observation Day Monday, Jan. 21 services in Natchitoches sponsored by the Black Heritage Committee. The emphasis will be on area and will convene at noon in the Dr. Martin Luther King Center, 660 MLK Drive.
The keynote speaker will be the Bishop Kelvin Stewart, founder of Rivers of Joy Ministries in Jonesboro who has established Joy Counseling Service located on Bienville Street in Natchitoches. This pastor is married to a Natchitoches native, the former Rhonda “Cookie” Gibson, and they are the parents of three children.
Master of Ceremony will be the Rev. Brad Holden, pastor of the First Baptist Church on North Street. Other guests invited are Dr. Linda King, pastor of Salvation Ministries of Campti; “Polly” Jackson Choir from the First Baptist Church, Amulet Street; Christian Outreach Center Youth Group; New Birth Baptist Church Choir; NSU Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; First Baptist Church, North Street Mime Group and a number of others.
A second observation will take place at the MLK Triangle at the 4:30 p. m. where the Rev. Brian Small, pastor of the Goodwill Baptist Church, will be the speaker. This wreath-laying ceremony will include the brothers of NSU Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and their sisters, area members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and members of the historic Dawn of Light Lodge #22.
Following the ceremony, there will be a candlelight march from the Triangle to the MLK Center where a concluding vigil will take place. These outdoor programs will go forth if the weather is permitting. Those citizens who will participate in this candlelight march are asked to bring a candle and a non-flammable base to catch the wax drippings.
Councilperson Sylvia Morrow is chairing the Black Heritage Committee’s Activities.
Bishop will speak at MLK service
Bishop Kelvin G. Stewart, a native of Opelousas, is the founder of Rivers of Joy Ministries in Jonesboro and has pastored for 27 years. He is married to Pastor Rhonda Stewart for 37 years and is the father of three children. Stewart was born in Opelousas to Ivory and Doris Stewart. He graduated from Opelousas Catholic High School and enrolled at Northwestern State University. He was a member of the track team and was known for his skill in the track arena. In December of 1989 he earned a bachelor’s degree in Municipal and Therapeutic Recreation from NSU.
In 1980 Stewart became a member of Greater New Testament United Pentecostal Church. Acting as outreach director in 1982, he encouraged many young and older adults to change their life styles and return to church.
In 1986 he became the youth director for the United Pentecostal Ethnic Outreach in the Louisiana State District and established a summer youth camp. This camp drew 200-300 youth from Houston, New Orleans Dallas and the surrounding areas in Louisiana. From this camp many young men and women were saved and filed with the Holy Ghost.
He received his pastoral license in 1992 from the United Pentecostal International organization. At this time he saw a need to enlarge his ministry of outreach when he visited Jonesboro. Home bible studies were offered to local residents to encourage their faith and participation in religious activities.
In 1993, Stewart purchased building on Hwy.167 highway in Jonesboro. He named the church Rivers of Joy Ministries. His ministries touched many lives on University and other surrounding colleges. He moved forward and was led by God to build a new facilities now located on 1723 East Main St.
Stewart has worked with the local political and community leaders to increase economic growth and stability in the Jonesboro area. In 2000, he established a faith based economic development program known as JOY IMPACT, Inc. The program’s mission is to provide youth and young adults in Jackson Parish with the support, resources and information needed to become productive citizens academically and economically.