The Daily Herald writes that celebrating the island’s great cultural diversity, a parade of flags and “Nationalities Day” special service took place Sunday morning at the Wesleyan Holiness Church in The Bottom.
The congregation also organised a nationalities fundraiser food sale at Princess Juliana’s sports field on Saturday, with traditional dishes from various Caribbean islands, the native lands of many parishioners. Reverend Vernon Liburd’s wife, Eunelda Liburd said over 100 meal tickets were sold. She thanked cooks Yvonne and Shirley Smith, Beverly Hassell, Pearline Rilley and others who helped with the sale.
Of the 66 nationalities residing on Saba, people of 20 nationalities are members of the Wesleyan Holiness church and they are the motivation for this annual Parade of Flags. About 100 people turned up for the special service which followed most wearing colourful, traditional dress from the countries they hail from. The gospel music was electrifying, judged by the fact that even some of the elderly ladies got up and danced in praise. The congregants sang and spoke in English, Dutch, Papiamento, Spanish and even Swahili. The religious service stressed unity and oneness in respect of everyone’s native identity and repeatedly featured moments when congregants shared positive reinforcement messages shaking hands.
Reverend Vernon Liburd, who had carried the flag of Christianity in the parade, centred his homily on the moment when the first Christian disciples moved from addressing Israelites to addressing all people of the known world. He pointed to the church as a repository of shared values, a vehicle for unity and togetherness in diversity. He opposed those voices flaming animosity by labelling some as “not belonging to this community,” reminding them that “God had ordained their right to be here” just as destiny had given birth to others. “Regardless of which country or island you are from, we are one people,” said Reverend Liburd. He rejoiced in hearing Swahili, Dutch and Papiamento in the church and said that regardless of their cultures all are brought to work in unity.
Through a parable he pointed that unity of purpose versus that of culture or language are separate things. Irrespective of culture or language if people each pull in their own direction they will reach nowhere but in unity they can achieve what each on their own wouldn’t be able to. Similarly he called on Sabans to be one family in body, mind and spirit while respecting each other’s identity.