For the past ten or more years, our congregation GCI Miramar Florida has celebrated our diversity during the month of February. It was a unanimous belief and understanding that we are one in Christ yet diverse culturally. Therefore, instead of focusing on the Black experience alone during Black History Month, we celebrate all heritages, all cultures represented within our congregation. Respectfully, we acknowledged Black presence within our history in the Civil Rights movements, business, ministry, inventions, and our community at large.
At one point, we had 11 countries represented. With that knowledge, we agreed to organize a multi-cultural celebration Sunday. On this day, after regular services, each country had a table or section of the hall where they would showcase their food, flag, and attire. Our pastors opened the celebrative time with an inspiring word, thanking Creator God for unity in diversity, energetically introducing each country’s table, some brief instructions for the flow of the afternoon and then the celebration would commence.
With an electric energy in the room, the music would waft in the background reflecting the different cultures of the world. At any given moment there were tasteful musical selections of Reggae, Salsa, Junkanoo, Soca, Kompa, Merengue, Blues, Jazz, Contemporary Gospel, Country, Rhythm & Blues and Rap. At our first celebration, the countries represented were USA, Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Trinidad & Tobago, and Canada. It was such a delight to see all our members working together to a common goal.
As the years passed by, one could feel the anticipation of our multi-cultural celebration as soon as the close of each year. Our youth vigorously participated as they helped their parents and loved ones set up the room. Everyone had a role, whether it was cooking, decorating, serving, or just enjoying the experience.
We fly into 2020 and it was deemed the best celebration ever because more people served, our attendance grew and there was even more excitement in the room. We witnessed people almost dancing from one table to the next to feast on the delicacies. Then the rise of the pandemic automatically shut the doors of the facility where we were holding our weekly worship services as it was a city owned building.
In 2022, we are, by God’s timely grace, meeting in the hall of another church in the Body of Christ. Although we were unable to celebrate with food this year, we still celebrated with our attire and music. “Simple is best” has become a safe procedure as we tread through this time. So, this year’s celebration began with an African welcome, drumming, and a most worshipful service. Members and participants in the Hope Avenue displayed African attire for the last 2 weeks of February. We all reflected on the goodness of God and thanked Him once more for our diversity, yet we are ONE in Christ.
By Keysha Taylor
Hope Avenue Champion