Fighting "the sickness in our society" requires following God's decree — something done by Martin Luther in the 1500s and by Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.
That was a key message from Shakir Hamoodi, a Muslim leader in Columbia who was the featured speaker at Sunday's sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance Ceremony at Second Baptist Church.
"Justice is not going to be given to you. You have to demand it," he said.
Hamoodi is the imam and outreach coordinator at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri in Columbia.
He also is a member of the board of directors for Missouri Faith Voices, a multifaith, multiracial, statewide, nonpartisan organization committed to empowering and transforming the lives of ordinary citizens who have been targeted by unfair policies and practices, and oppressed by racial and economic injustice.
Martin Luther "established the soul of Christianity" by fighting against indulgences and other things wrong with the Catholic Church at the time, Hamoodi said.
He said when the church asked Luther to withdraw his criticism, he declined, saying: "My conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything. Since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscious, I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me."
He said very few people in history stood for justice like that, Hamoodi said.
Martin Luther King Jr. also was one of those people, he said, adding King gave his life to fight injustice. King, he said, has been close to his heart since he was young.
"The sickness that King was fighting could be summarized by one statement: 'I am better than you,'" he said.
He said the church must follow the legacy of King. To do so, it needs to fill the pews with the younger generation.
The two-hour event also featured musical tributes by the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City and the Second Missionary Baptist Church Choir of Columbia.
The church honored Lt. David Williams with the Drum Major for Justice Award for exemplifying the characteristics and traits of King.
Williams has had a 28-year career in law enforcement, serving as an undercover officer, accident reconstructionist, field training officer, motorcycle officer and SWAT team commander, among other things.
The Rev. W.T. Edmonson introduced Williams, saying Williams is involved in various state and federal associations and has represented Jefferson City on national television twice in the past year, once due to a missing child and once due to the May 22 tornado.
"Each time, he has displayed compassion, composure, confidence and honesty," Edmonson said.
Williams said he couldn't have accomplished what he has without being raised right and having God in his life.
"No matter what you say and what you think, without the Lord, you can't do" anything, he said.
Before being presented with the award, Williams gave the congregation a short talk about security, urging the church to have a security team "qualified to help you" should an emergency arise.
"Not everyone comes to church for the right reason," he said.
The event started with Deaconess Barbara Black comparing Martin Luther King Jr. to the young David in the Bible's Book of Samuel.
She said the same question David asks in First Samuel 17:19 applies today: "Is there not a cause?"
"Gun control, moral bias have been put to rest just like Goliath. We've got setbacks, rollbacks, throwbacks. Dr. King has done the blueprint. We don't need to invent the wheel," she said.
"Columbia is having a lot of issues with gun control," she said. "There's 100,000 people over there. If 50,000 of them said 'no more guns,' I wonder what would happen?"