With the colors of their respective nationalities on display and adorned, hundreds of Caribbean and other nationals on Sunday attended and participated in what organizers said was the Third International Day at St. Paul’s Church in the Village of Flatbush.
The Episcopal (Anglican) Church, which is located at 157 St. Paul’s Pl. in the heart of the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, also observed “Homecoming” on Sunday.
Parishioners intermingled with family, friends and supporters, and participated in a host of cultural events in the 179 year-old church’s auditorium.
Patrons also sampled a variety of national dishes, including Jamaica’s achee and saltfish, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ breadfruit and saltfish, washing them down with mauby and ginger beer, among other local drinks.
Emceed by Vincentian “Sir” Denaro Liverpool, the cultural package comprised folk songs by St. Lucian and Vincentian nationals; steel pan performances by Trinidadians; poems by Jamaicans; dances by Africans and African Americans; market skit by Barbadians; skit and dancing by Guyanese; Indian Dance by St. Paul’s Dance Ensemble; and drumming, among others.
“Homecoming and International Day at St. Paul’s Church in the Village of Flatbush, Brooklyn is an opportunity to welcome back members from the summer hiatus,” the church’s Barbadian-born pastor, the Rev. Sheldon Hamblin, told Caribbean Life. “It is also an occasion to celebrate the cultural diversity at St. Paul’s.”
This year’s celebration began on Saturday, Sept. 12, with an inaugural “Homecoming Lecture,” entitled “Oppression in Caribbean Societies 1838-1938,” presented by Dr. Henderson Carter, professor in history at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.
The next day, congregants gathered in the morning to celebrate the blessed Holy Eucharist, followed by the multi-cultural celebration.
“This weekend was truly amazing and awe-inspiring – to God be the Glory!” Rev. Hamblin said.
Trinidadian Gemma Cureton, chair of the Cultural Committee, who is also leader of St. Paul’s Ensemble, said “it is always a good thing when you can work for your church and community.”
Registered Nurse Judith Lewis, a member of the vestry and co-chair of the committee, who hails from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said that “the celebration brings people together and truly shows us that we have more similarities than differences.”
Rona Larmond, captain of the Jamaica group, described the event as “a grand affair,” adding that she was “pleased to see how the celebration has evolved over the past three years.”
She said she “really looks forward to this day” and that she invites friends from other churches.
Ken Baldeosingh, originally from Trinidad and Tobago and the church’s senior warden, characterized “Homecoming” as “a sentimental love feast of a happy table fellowship, where you have various countries of color coming together.”
Masegale Monnapula, of Johannesburg, South Africa, an ardent congregant, said: “We are all interconnected, and we have a responsibility to each other.
“Celebrating homecoming and each other’s heritage in God’s House prove that connection of UBUNTU,” she said.