Al Sharpton joins in celebration of Saluda church’s homecoming

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Sep 15, 2010 - 04:15 PM

The Rev. Al Sharpton, well-known civil rights advocate and president of the National Action Network, may have a reputation among some circles as a fiery speaker who stirs up trouble, but at Lebanon Baptist Church’s homecoming in Saluda on Sunday, his message was all about peace, loving others and honoring your roots.

Photo: The Rev. Al Sharpton enthralled the crowd at Lebanon Baptist Church of Saluda Sunday with a message about self-respect, loving others, and honoring your roots. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

The Rev. Al Sharpton enthralled the crowd at Lebanon Baptist Church of Saluda Sunday with a message about self-respect, loving others, and honoring your roots. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Sharpton was introduced by former Middlesex resident George Gresham, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, United Healthcare Workers East of New York City, the largest local union in the world. Gresham, brother of church member Davelin Gresham, described Sharpton as "a real friend who’s there when you need him" and "a leader like no other leader."

"He can’t be compromised," said Gresham.

Sharpton in turn talked about his friendship with Gresham, using it as a segue to his talk about homecoming. He said that Gresham stayed with him for two days in the aftermath of the death of James Brown, the late legendary soul singer who "raised me like a son." Because Gresham "came home with me," said Sharpton, "I wanted to come home with him."

Sharpton praised Gresham for his connection to his roots.

"George doesn’t try to forget where he came from," he said. "He always talks about his hometown."

Homecoming is a time for reflection and reassessment about where you’ve come from and where you’re headed, said Sharpton.

"You don’t determine home," he said. "It’s not an option." But he assured those gathered that God didn’t put them in the wrong place.

"Wherever he started you is where he wants you connected," he said. "Where you end up is up to you, but not where you start."