Noted preacher Dr. James Forbes fears the polarization in the United States is like a civil war without the firing of cannons. He will be speaking Sunday in a community worship service honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy and the legacy of late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Newtown Congregational Church.

The community worship service will be held at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20 at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street, Newtown. Its sponsors are the Newtown Congregational and Newtown United Methodist churches.

The event is being held on the weekend the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated around the United States. It is also taking place a day before the inauguration of President Barack Obama for a second term in Washington, D.C.

“It is fitting, on this weekend, when our nation honors the service and sacrifice of Dr. King, that we gather in worship to honor the service and sacrifice of the persons who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy,” said the Rev. Matt Rev. Crebbin, senior pastor at Newtown Congregational Church.

Dr. Forbes' sermon will be a call for transformation of communities — creating good from the tragedy at Sandy Hook — as Dr. King called for transformation in the wake of extreme violence during the civil rights movement 50 years ago.

“Worshipping as a community grounded in faith serves an important catalyst in our healing, and as we adjust to the new normal in how we live,” said the Rev. Mel Kawakami, pastor of Newtown United Methodist Church.

Newsweek magazine recognized Dr. Forbes as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. He is senior minister emeritus of historic Riverside Church in New York City, and is president and founder of The Healing of the Nations Foundation. The foundation seeks to broaden the awareness of the connections between physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and community health.

The public worship service will follow an afternoon seminar that Dr. Forbes is conducting for Newtown area clergy. He will focus on equipping clergy with spiritual tools to help in healing and moving forward in the Newtown area.

Editors: Newtown Congregational Church has a policy of no video or still cameras on the main floor of its sanctuary during worship. A limited number of cameras will be allowed on the balcony overlooking the seating area in the sanctuary. If necessary, we will provide a video pool feed.

A press availability with Dr. Forbes is being planned for 6:45 p.m. Sunday, prior to the worship service. It will be held in a room near the sanctuary. That room will also serve as a pressroom for the event.

For more information, media contact: Stephen Drachler at 717.926.7240. Email: sdrachler@gmail.com

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