Rosedale church celebrates diverse parish with cultural fest

Flag bearers: Young boys walk with the flag of Barbados and United States, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s Internatonal Homecoming Day in Rosedale on Sept. 16, 2017.
Photo by Tyrone Johnson

A festive worship like no other!

Hundreds of parishioners came out for International Homecoming day — a festive celebration of the multi-ethnic cultures at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rosedale on Sept. 16. In honor of the place of worship’s 110th anniversary year, the day was a chance for residents to learn about the church’s history, and the people of its diverse parish, said one organizer.

“Seeing the people come together was so much fun. There were so many ethnicities represented and so much information to learn about each other,” said Monica Carrington, a longtime vestry member of the church.

International Homecoming Day is a display of culture through fashion, food, and music. The predominantly Caribbean American parish had more than a dozen booths, each highlighting a few tidbits about a island and aspects of its culture, added Carrington.

“Every booth had in-depth information about a country’s history and roots — so people could get food and education,” she said. “I was energized by the whole thing.”

The day included a procession of flags, a mini carnival, fashion show, dance and music performances, and food. The relaxing event was so entertaining that members of the mostly reserved parish were showing off their best dance moves, said Carrington.

“I saw people that were 80 years old just dancing and having a good time — I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They were loose and having a fun.”

She said the church’s parish is much different from when it was first founded. But now with a different demographic of worshippers, the festive celebration is a reminder to the community of its past and present.

“One hundred years ago, Rosedale was mostly white, and black people couldn’t move into this neighborhood because of racism,” said Carrington. “But we are the majority now, and we’ve come a long way in 110 years and I wanted to showcase that.”

Carrington noted that guests were so thrilled by the event, that the next day’s mass had a different energy.

“We went to church on Sunday and everyone was still on a high from the day before,” she said.

As the oldest worship house in Rosedale, and an important factor in the lives of its members, hosting cultural events such as International Homecoming Day is an opportunity for the church’s parochial members to broaden their relationship with its neighbors and expand their visibility, said a co-organizer of the event.

“We want to reach the community and partner with businesses more,” said Yvonne Robinson. “We’ve been here for 110 years and a lot of people don’t know we are here. So it’s our mission to open our doors to the community and let the folks know we are open to them.”

Organizers are in talks to bring back the festival as an annual or bi-annual event, added Robinson.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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