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‘I’m here because I was pressing on,’ Smith says at Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel

During his address at Campbellsville University’s Martin Luther King Chapel Jr. recently, Dr. Gerald Smith focused on the meaning of “pressing on.” (Campbellsville University Photo by Avary Randall)

Dr. Gerald Smith, professor of history at the University of Kentucky, led Campbellsville University faculty, staff, students and the public in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recently in Ransdell Chapel.       

Smith read from Philippians 3:13–14. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 

Smith said the depths of the scripture is “I’m pressing on.”  

Smith led from a book, Voices from the Dexter Pulpit, a collection of sermons preached by previous pastors from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

Robert M. Dickerson Jr., a former reverend, sermonized “What are you doing here?” from Psalms 95: 1-6. Dickerson explained the sermon by using a humorous story about a man who believed his girlfriend was cheating.  

The man made an unannounced visit to her apartment. He searched for her other boyfriend by storming through every room. He glanced through the kitchen window and saw the man. He picked up the refrigerator and threw it out the window. However, his fit of rage gave him a heart attack and killed him.  

The Apostle Peter was waiting at the gates of Heaven. There were three men.  

Peter asked, “What are you doing here?”  

The first man said, “I had a heart attack.” The second man said, “I was in front of my apartment, and something hit me in the head.” The third man said, “I was minding my own business and was sitting in a refrigerator.”  

Smith directed the conversation back to King. He wondered what the man would say to Peter. 

“I believe King would have said, ‘I’m here because I was trying to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit those in prison. I’m here because I was a drum major for justice. I’m here because I marched for jobs and freedom in Washington D.C.” 

“I’m here because I tried to love my enemies, bless those that curse me, do good to those that hate me, pray for those who spitefully use me. I’m here, Peter, because I am a preacher of the Gospel. I’m here because I was pressing on,” Smith said.  

Smith earned his bachelors, masters, and Ph. D degrees studying history at the University of Kentucky. During his career, he was the director of African American Studies and Research Program from 1997 to 2005.  

Smith is also an author, editor and co-editor of several well-estimated published works. Smith has recently released Slavery and Freedom in the Bluegrass State: Revisiting My Old Kentucky Home, a series of essays discussing the forgotten hardships of African Americans living in Kentucky.

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