The rain, sleet and snow that fell in Gary throughout the day and evening of February 11 was a walk in the park for the 200 or so people that made their way to Israel C.M.E. Church. It was easy because the temperature was more tolerable when you considered the subzero temperatures the week before, it was because of who they came to honor—Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
In 2012, Karen Freeman-Wilson was elected the first female mayor of Gary, Indiana and the first African American woman mayor in the state of Indiana. She is also the president of the National League of Cities (NLC), the nation’s largest organization representing cities and their leaders. She will lead the organization as they set priorities and focus campaigns to help city leaders.
Elder Carrell K. Cargle, Sr. is the presiding Elder Emeritus of CME Church in Gary and a respected spiritual leader within the interfaith community in Northwest Indiana. He is also quite good at garnering support from the community for a worthwhile cause. He did that recently when he coordinated a celebration to recognize Freeman-Wilson as the newly elected president of the National League of Cities.
The celebration was titled, “An Evening of Prayers and Praise” and that is exactly what they did in the house of worship the mayor has attended since a young age. It’s the place where people, pastors and elected officials came to pray and sing praises regardless of differences at the invitation of Cargle.
According to Cargle, “It was all about the faith community recognizing and honoring the mayor for her achievements, as well as to offer prayers and praises for her continued work. He asked faith leaders from all denominations, political leaders, educators, including the Greek community, who brought greetings.
Cargle said, “When I saw the clipping in the newspaper around 3 months ago that Karen would be elected the president of the National League of Cities. I asked the Lord what should I do? The Lord told me to get up and talk to the faith community about it.” He asked the Mayor for her permission and then he talked to others, including educators, elected officials and the downtrodden folks.
Collectively the decision was made to acknowledge the accomplishments of one of Gary’s own. That was important. “We must recognize a girl born in Gary, a Harvard graduate and a lawyer, who stayed active in the church. When she was young she became a part of the Interfaith Power Pool. Cargle has known her since she was young. “She calls me dad and I call her my spiritual daughter,” he said.
The program was divided into two sections—the first part focused on the Power of Prayers, with pastors of various denominations on the program. Rev. Dr. David Neville, president of Interfaith Clergy Council was the presiding officer. It was followed by the second to build up spiritual resolve through the Power of Praise and Encouragement. Rev. Dwight Gardner was the presiding Officer during part two.