Vincentians in New York last Sunday began celebrating their country’s 33rd anniversary of independence with an ecumenical service of thanksgiving at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
Hundreds attended the three-hour service at the church, whose pastor the Venerable Carver Israel, archdeacon of Brooklyn is Vincentian.
Congregrants sang lustily and listened to Bible readings, prayers and preachings by at least a dozen Vincentian clergymen.
The Rev. Hoskins Prescott, assistant priest at St. Leonard’s Anglican Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and the Rev. Dillon Burgin, pastor, Bethel United Methodist Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, alternated as liturgists.
There were prayers by the clergymen, interspersed with hymns, for the United States (Rev. Derhnin Grant), the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Rev. Berkeley Dougan), the youth (Bishop Robert Yearwood) and of thanksgiving (Bishop Kenroy Cuffy).
Addresses were also delivered by United Nations Amb. Camillo Gonsalves; United States Consul General Selmon Walters; and Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of the umbrella Vincentian organizing group in the U.S., Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), which, organized the church service and subsequent reception in conjunction with the New York Consulate General.
“What we need is to get the power of God in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said the Rev. Dr. Lincoln Creese in his sermon.
“We need Christ back in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – to make St. Vincent and the Grenadines a prosperous land,” added the pastor of New Millennium Tabernacle of Praise in Brooklyn.
Rev. Creese also appealed for special assistance for the youth, stating that “the children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are in desperate help for direction.
“We need your help, we need your support,” he preached. “God, we need a deliverance. We want to take back our young boys and girls from drugs and guns.”
Rev. Creese, however, added that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “blessed, and we’ll be prosperous.”
Gonsalves told the congregation that while independence is a “cherished thing,” St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ is “always under threat – from poverty, underdevelopment and from other countries.”
He, therefore, urged that nationals unite for nationhood, lamenting: “We very rarely speak with one voice.”
The U.N. envoy, however, said, even in the face of numerous impediments, the 150-square-mile island-nation can “overcome any struggle,” adding: “We have to look out for ourselves.”
Walters – who had just returned from Montreal, Canada, where Vincentians there celebrated their independence anniversary on Saturday night – also appealed to nationals to instill in their children the values they adopted at home, stating that too many young Vincentians in the U.S., particularly men, are falling prey to crime.
“Every day, I’m bombarded by ICE (the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) to deport Vincentians,” he said.
“My appeal to all of us is to enforce on them (young people) the values we were taught while we were young,” he added.
“I’m seeing too many helpless mothers,” Walters continued. “If you need help to bring them (youth up, bring them to the church.”
McDowald-Thompson said she was pleased with the turn-out, pointing out that their presence at the church service “truly demonstrates a sense of national pride and love for your country.
“I encourage all Vincentians to nurture a sense of national pride,” said the former school teacher, who is also president of the Brooklyn-based Chateaubelair Development Organization.
Independence anniversary celebrations in Brooklyn continue this Sunday, Oct. 27, with a COSAGO-Consulate-organized gala luncheon at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue.
Vincentians in Boston, Massachusetts, celebrated their anniversary on Saturday night, Oct. 13, with a dinner/dance.
Nationals in Washington, D.C. will celebrate their anniversary this Saturday night, Oct. 27, with a dinner/dance, and a church service the next day.
Their compatriots in Pennsylvania will celebrate their anniversary in Philadelphia on Nov. 3 with a dinner/dance.