Let’s build a modern village on two pillars – a renewed church and a transformed school.
In the welcome greeting posted on the website of St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Rev Eddie Alleyne, Rector & Dean of St. Luke’s Deanery, in part, describes the church as a vibrant parish with a pot-pourri of nationalities.
Truthfully, St Gabriel’s membership landscape covers New York in the northeast to Panama in Central America and across to Guyana in South America, together with the chain of islands throughout the Caribbean, England, Canada, Nigeria and Ghana.
It was, therefore, no surprise that their recent annual July Street Fair was, to a large extent, a united Caribbean nations multicultural affair, whereby island groups within the church decorated vendor stalls with flags, sold national food and drinks, and in a few instances played national music.
As expected, fish cakes, pudding and souse and cou cou were three of the popular dishes at the Barbados stall. At one point, the line included patrons who simply came to collect their favourite dish. Interestingly, Barbadian styled fishcakes were also in high demand at the Panamanian stall.
The event is part of the church’s summer outreach and community program. Michael Ashby, Head Altar Clerk and Eucharist Minister explained.
“This is one of our summer activities. We have been having this event for many, many, years. Although we didn’t have our usual crowd, we had a good time and excellent membership participation. The flags made it look like a mini United Nations.”
On Labor day Sunday, the Barbados group will present Oistins.
“As you know, we have jointly hosted ‘Q in the Community’ in the past. There will be not ‘Q in the Community’ on Labor Day Sunday. The Barbados group of the church will fill that void with ‘Oistins’ – Bajan food and music. We have done this event before as ‘Baxter’s Road’.
“That said, on August 26, in the evening we will again be hosting the popular Celestial Voices in Concert. Last year, that concert was well received,” said Ashby.
The St Gabriel’s Episcopal church, established in 1905, is a pillar of the Nostrand – New York area, a community of African and Caribbean people, among others. It also has a popular Senior Citizens Center that is a collaborative effort. This community approach is taking root as the demographics of communities change.
Pastor Dr A. R. Barnard, founder of the Christian Cultural Center, a mega interdenominational church in the Flatlands area of Brooklyn with more than thirty thousand members, gave it as the reason why his church is located in Starrett City.
“When we were looking for a place to build our new church, a realtor who was looking for a vibrant church for the neighborhood called him and said – I want your church in my neighborhood,” Barnard said.
Ultimately, the St. Gabriel’s Episcopal church, by its actions, is a place of refuge and strength within the community it serves. By extension, it makes a case for schools to become centres of influence within the communities they serve.
Walter Edey, a former Science educator, and author, believes that Structural Thinking is the “Thought Technology” and wave of the future.