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Rev. Lilada Gee’s sermon on “finishing the work” will highlight Jesus’ MLK Worship Service at Sherman Church on Sunday

Lilada Gee (Photo: Facebook)

Rev. Lilada Gee has faced incredible adversity over the last year and persevered through  multiple difficult situations as an artist here in Madison. As the featured speaker for Sherman Church’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jesus’ Dream worship service on Sunday, Jan. 15, Gee plans to touch on the themes of being interrupted and “finishing the work.”

Rev. David Hart, pastor of Sherman Church, tells Madison365 that this will be the fifth annual event.

“With this event, we want to center the notion that Dr. Martin Luther King was simply living out the dream of Jesus,” Hart says. “That is to have individuals who speak truth to power, who push back against oppression and marginalization, and so that’s why it’s called Jesus’ dream.

“When we thought about this discussion that we needed to have, we wanted to center Black women and women and we wanted to discuss where we were as a city in terms of the civil rights work and the human rights work that has occurred in the city, and what’s left to be done,” Hart adds. “As we looked for people who could speak to that, there is nobody who could speak to that in the last few years, the last year especially, as Rev. Gee can.”

Gee is a beloved Madison artist and a fierce advocate for Black girls to be safe in their homes, schools, and communities. Her bright, bold graphic paintings that can be seen all over town — from murals to yard signs to beer labels to children’s coloring books — celebrate and defend the joy of young Black girls.

The title of Gee’s sermon will be “Interrupted by Beth: The Sermon.” “Beth” was a physically aggressive Overture Center for the Arts employee who verbally assaulted and belittled Gee as she tried to re-enter the building where she was working on Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” exhibit back in March in a story that Madison365 broke first.

A few months later, Gee was interrupted again in June when her artwork from that same exhibit, which highlighted Black women artists in Wisconsin, was vandalized at MMoCA.

“I talk about being interrupted and unfinished work and David [Hart] specifically wanted me to put it within the context of my unfinished artwork,” Gee tells Madison365. “So I’m going to weave in that story with Biblical truths that I hope moves people forward from places they’ve been interrupted.

Sherman Avenue United Methodist Church is located on Madison’s north side. (Photo by David Dahmer)


“I may touch on MMoCA a bit because that’s kind of part of that whole interrupted cycle,” she adds. “But also, I’ll be talking about breast cancer and that interruption and how to move forward.”

Gee was diagnosed with breast cancer this past summer.

This annual event takes place on the Dr. Martlin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend, and Gee says it’s important to remember Dr. King’s work and legacy and what was left unfinished.

“I think it’s easy to look at what Dr. King did and be like, ‘Wow, he worked hard … he did a great job’ and not realize that there is more work to be done,” she says. “He did not finish the work. He may have finished his work; but he didn’t have finished the work.”

After the MLK Jesus’ Dream Worship Service, Sherman Church will host a community meal.

“We’re convening other churches and people and neighbors and friends to have a celebration of worship around the principles of equity and liberation,” Hart says. “It’s just going to be good to fellowship, it’s going to be good to just convene together with folks who are serious about this work.”

Sherman Avenue United Methodist Church is located at 3705 N Sherman Ave. on Madison’s north side

“For Sunday’s event, I’m really looking forward to being able to fellowship with the new congregation and to be able to share inspirational words that I hope really encourage people,” Gee says.

“So I really would love for people to come out.  I feel like the support of the community has really lifted me up with kind words and prayers. And so I would love for folks to come out and support in this way, too.”


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jesus’ Dream worship service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 9:15 a.m. at Sherman Church.