Thanks for welcoming me here to share this day with you. Lane Tabernacle CME is a strong anchor in our community and Dr. James Morris is a good friend and leader, not only of the church, but our community.
I've said this many times before and I'll say it again here today: the true foundation of civic life is not found in the letter of the law, or in the giant stones of the courthouse, or even in the shiny metal of a police badge.
The true foundation of civic life is people, working peacefully together to build a better life…for themselves, and for each other.
I'm talking about the kind of people you see in this church today.
Because the real power in our civilization is NOT physical or material, and though we all love our gadgets well enough, it's not even technological. The real power that makes our society work is personal and spiritual. It's the power that comes from people inspired by a common vision of justice, righteousness and peace. And just look around the church today: we have the vision, and have the inspiration.
Many of you have heard me talk about our city's progress and overall decline in crime. You've heard me say that crime is down 50% since 2006, and so it is. You've heard me say that from the year before to last year, violent crime went down by 10%, and so it did.
These facts are true and I believe it's important to share them with the people. But I must be careful, I must be very careful. In saying these things, we may allow ourselves to celebrate a little bit, but we must all remember that there are still too many victims among us.
In a world where everyone deserves a chance to live a life of dignity...even one victim of crime is one too many. And while we remind ourselves of that, we must also remember something else.
Peace is everyone's business. The police have worked hard and made great strides in the struggle against violence, but they have not done it alone and they cannot do it without you.
To go further, we must work more closely together than ever before. We need all aspects of society to face what remains of this problem: the police, the courts, the government…but also the economy, the schools, the churches, the families, and even those who are most at risk of hurting or being hurt, the young people in our city, need to work more closely together.
Looking back at what we have accomplished, I am proud and so should you be, but I believe we can do more. I believe we have a brighter future, a safe future, a more peaceful future working together.
And I believe the real key to that future is sitting in this room and in other places like it.
When I imagine that future, I am reminded of John 1st Epistle, Chapter 3, Verse 2:
"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."
Think about that. "What we will be...has not yet appeared." But we are working toward it. And together, we can work even harder and go even further toward building a society where more and more people share the blessings of peace.