Haitian Block Party Rocks!
St. John’s was groovin’ to a Haitian vibe on Sunday, March 8, 2015 when over 200 people filled the church for the 5:00 p.m. service to celebrate our partnership with the St. Matthias School in Deslandes, Haiti. An authentic Haitian dinner followed in Bleecker Hall. Spirit raiser, friend raiser and fund raiser, our second Haitian Fête was a joyous celebration of our expanding definition of “neighborhood.”
The exuberant worship service included performances by the St. John’s Junior and Senior Choirs, as well as several special guests. Spirituals by Hafali (Haitian American Family Association of Long Island) and the Ebenezer AME Voices of Praise had the congregation on their feet, singing and clapping along. St. John’s own Malinda Sanna performed with her group Thursday’s Blend, offering moving renditions of “The Human Heart” from the play Once on This Island and “We Fall Down, But We Get Up.”
A group of this year’s travelers (intrepid spirits all!) performed a song and dance they learned in Haiti from the St. Matthias Young Men’s Group, fittingly titled, “An’n mete tet ansamn” (“Let’s put our heads together”!). Readings in three languages (French, English and Kreyol) and personal reflections by travelers Jamie Wylie, Evans Raphael and Syncia Cajuste enriched the multicultural liturgy.
At dinner, guests were treated to authentic Haitian dishes, including roast goat, pumpkin soup, creole chicken stew and many other traditional favorites – all homemade by committee members! There were fun children’s’ activities, a raffle and beautiful Haitian arts and crafts for sale. The Fête also launched the Partnership’s new “Goat Project.”
As Jamie poignantly noted in his reflection, “St. John’s and St. Matthias have been brought together because both communities are open and awake, eager to help and willing to serve.” This partnership “has blossomed into an ever-widening circle of friends who want to live life’s joy and pain together, with love and grace.”
Proceeds from this year’s Fête will be used to complete the construction of the new Early Childhood Center at St. Matthias, a collaborative project begun two years ago. We offer our heartfelt thanks to all who helped make the evening such a success. It truly felt like a block party! As Malinda sang, “You are part of the human heart; you are part of all who took the journey”.
If you would like to learn more, become involved or support the work of the St. Matthias Partnership, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you with us!
– Laura Swiggett