Chaplain Joan Martin honored with MLK Unity Award

Although the ceremony was postponed for nearly two weeks due to lingering ice and snow from the Jan. 17 storm, three longtime community leaders were recently presented with the Gaston Clergy and Citizens Coalition 2022 Gaston County Martin Luther King Unity Awards.

The Rev. Joan Martin, the Rev. Dwayne Burks, and Michael Meeks received the awards in a special ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 30, at Mt. Zion Restoration Church.

The awards were begun in 2004 to honor Gaston County leaders who have, “performed exemplary community service to build bridges of unity across lines of class, race, gender, faith, and municipalities,” organizers said.

Martin, the first female clergy member to be honored with the award, has served residents of Gaston County since 2004 in many capacities.

She has worked as a facilitator for the Interfaith Trialogue, as a leader and facilitator for the Clergy Women of Gaston County, and as a member and past chair of the Gaston Together Clergy and Citizens’ Coalition.

Martin is the chaplain at the Covenant Village retirement community in Gastonia.

Meeks was born and reared in Bessemer City. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War and continued his service in the Army Reserve.

After a career with Wyndham Hotels, he returned to Bessemer City and began volunteering on many community projects and committees.

He currently serves as the president of the Bessemer City Crisis Center, is a member of the Gaston County Collaborative Board, and delivers Meals on Wheels to area residents.

Burks is the founder and director of Gateway Gaston, which serves residents by connecting them to local resources in times of need.

Burks has also hosted two Legacy of Freedom trips for local clergy from multiple denominations and has participated in outreach ministry serving meals to those in need.

Gaston Clergy and Citizens Coalition is a countywide, non-denominational ministerial association formed in the late 1990s by Gaston Together. The group meets at 9 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month.

Courtesy of The Gaston Gazette

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