Morro Bay’s Pastor Roger Evey appreciates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. particularly because he accepted his nonviolent philosophy during violent times.
“He realized hate would not change people even when his home and children were threatened,” Evey said. He said Dr. King’s message extends to all people and is just as valid today. “In my experience, tolerance is more caught, than taught. I was raised in Corvallis, Ore. I grew up color-blind. I was shocked when I first ran into prejudice. During the 1960s rioting, my mother was ready to head south and join the cause until my father explained she was needed at home to raise their four children. Although I don’t remember my parents ever specifically teaching me about tolerance, they modeled it on a regular basis.
“Our home had a steady stream of visitors. People came from different cultures and countries. Black athletes and university students from other countries came to dinner all the time. A high school student from Iran lived with us. My older brother met a black youth at a national Boy Scout gathering. My father arranged for him to attend Oregon State on a football scholarship. He was family for four years.”
After serving as a youth minister, kindergarten teacher and staff member of a church in Portland, Evey and his wife, Lynn, felt their destiny was elsewhere. “It was miraculous we came to Morro Bay,” he said. “I had no idea where this community was but prayed God would lead us (to) where we could plant our roots and become part of a community. We got the map out, and San Luis County called us.”
Since 1987, the Eveys embraced their community. They have raised six children, been involved, and started and maintained Morro Bay Foursquare Church. “We call it ‘The Gathering Place’ and welcome anyone Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings upstairs at Rose’s Landing. We’re a ‘come as you are’ church with members from all cultural and religious backgrounds. We don’t always need to agree, and I don’t try to change you. God will work on that. But face-to-face discussions can guide us to acceptance and mutual respect. We need more of that today. The ground in front of the cross is level — everyone has equal value.”
Such was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream back in Aug. 28, 1963, “… in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream … that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ ”
Judy Salamachas column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at email@example.com or 801-1422.