A COALITION of churches moved their swaying palms and uplifting hymns from the streets of Port of Spain into the community of Sea Lots with a message of hope and peace.
Members of the Downtown Ministers Fellowship yesterday marched from downtown to the basketball court at Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots for their annual Palm Sunday procession.
Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral The Very Reverend Shelley-Ann Tenia spoke with Newsday at the start of the march and explained the fellowship is made up of the Baptist Church, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Presbyterian.
“So basically all of the churches in downtown Port of Spain, we gather every year to do our Palm Sunday march. Usually, we gather in Port of Spain and move from church to church. This year we decided that we would come together and do a prayer walk to Sea Lots.”
She said the event included a mission service, prayer for anyone and preaching of the word.
“Really it is just to minister to and bring hope and good news to our brothers and sisters in Sea Lots because so often they feel like they are cut off and nobody really cares, and that’s not true. I think everybody is trying their best and doing their best and everybody wants to be part of the community.”
She said it is an important day for Christians because it is the first day of Holy Week and marks Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
“And he was doing the same thing (as we are) – bringing the good news of God’s love and hope to all that would have it and hear it, and bringing encouragement to those who are disenfranchised and disinherited and in difficult circumstances.”
The first murder victim for the year was a 55-year-old man from Sea Lots. In February, a woman was shot and killed outside her Pioneer Drive home, and a week later a man, also from Pioneer Drive, was killed. Asked about safety concerns going into Sea Lots, Tenia replied yesterday “absolutely none.”
“It’s hot. I think that’s the biggest concern for everybody. But other than that, we go in faith with the understanding that our brothers and sisters who live in Sea Lots are just like we are. We have the same fears, we have the same concerns, we have the same hopes (and) joys. So we’re going there in faith trusting that there is good there. Because there is good there.”
The procession, which entered Sea Lots under the protection of a heavily armed police escort, was done in collaboration with the Open Bible Church in Sea Lots. Open Bible member and “servant of the Lord” Christopher John said the prayer walk was about the violence that takes place in the community.
“(We want to) let people know there is a better way of walking than a life of crime.”
He said the procession was also about making people aware that Christ is coming soon and they should turn around their lives. Asked about life in Sea Lots, John said it is not bad as people believe it is.
“A few have the place in things. But people in Sea Lots is good people. We have love for one another.”
He said the community needs more sports and things for the young people to do as some of them are school dropouts. He also said there should be training in different trades.
Pastor Wendell Jones of St John’s (London) Baptist Church said it is important to come into the community as most people no longer live in the city.
Evangelist Wendell Mitchell of the Methodist Church said when Jesus rode into Jerusalem he brought hope and a message of peace.
“We can be triumphant and be in peace through abiding in God.”
He added: “Be part of a positive ‘gang.’ You will have protection.”
The procession yesterday also included the Salvation Army chorus line and members of the Moravian Church.