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3-27-13 Thousands march across Brooklyn Bridge against violence and in support of compassion
Part of a three-day event of  emphasizing and showing compassion

by Kimi-Roux James, editorial assistant, Greater New York Conference

Photo: Greater New York Conference on Facebook  
Compassion resonated throughout New York City on the weekend of March 22-24 not just in words but also in actions. Organizer of the three-day event, Jose Cortes, Jr., director for Youth Ministries at Atlantic Union highlighted that, “Since Friday, March 22, thousands of youth and young adults of the Seventh-day Adventist Church throughout North America, and the world, have been volunteering their time [for this cause] and provided 20 to 30,000 hours of voluntary service and love.” The weekend involved young people volunteering their time showing compassion across New York City’s boroughs and suburbs. The highlight of the weekend was the Compassion Rally, which involved a march against violence across the Brooklyn Bridge in favor of compassion.

  Photo: Greater New York Conference on Facebook
One of the highlights of the Compassion weekend occurred on Sabbath, March 23. Youth leaders decided to implement something never done before flash mob. By definition, a flash mob is a group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual activity of short duration. Led by Ricardo Bain, pastor of the Queens Faith Temple, he and a youth group of about 400 conducted the flash mob in the heart of New York City’s Times Square. At exactly 1:00 p.m. hundreds of youth immerged out of the thickening crowd chanting to the words, “I am the hands of Jesus; I share the love of Jesus”, along with singing “O, How I Love Jesus.” The mob ended with youth disbursing into small groups praying with people in Times Square.

“It was fun!” remarked an Adventist young man, who traveled from New Jersey to take part in the flash mob. “Everyone was looking at us, we prayed for and with them; they were able to hear God’s Word as we sang of Jesus’ love for them.”
Photo: Greater New York Conference on Facebook  
Thousands of youth descended on Cadman Plaza (downtown Brooklyn) where they prepared to march against violence across the Brooklyn Bridge. More than 3,000 people participated. Each participant wore a red and white t-shirt depicting a hand forming the shape of a heart sign. The t-shirt slogan read: “Compassion: Because Actions Speak Louder Than Words.”

While waiting with his group of 55 from Birmingham, Massachusetts to join the march, a young man said that, ”The weekend was an opportunity to reach out to the community, to help in any way, not just physically, but spiritually.” Another young man shouted, “We’re here to show compassion!” For him, it meant showing more kindness to others.

Prior to the march, a press conference was held. In attendance was Congress woman from Brooklyn’s 9th District, Yvette Clarke, along with representatives from North American Division, the Atlantic Union, and local conferences gathered at the press conference in support, as well.

Rohann Wellington, communication director of Greater New York Conference, made the opening statement for the press conference. He stated, “This march is about a change from the depressing statistics on violence within our community to a positive life filled with compassion. It’s about our youth’s right to live and not kill nor be killed or abused physically, sexually, or psychologically. To live and practice compassion.”

Followed by Wellington was Jose Cortes, Jr., who voiced that, ”It is our resolve to take this movement across the Northeast of our country and have it replicated across the world by other Adventist Youth and Young Adults.” He continued saying, “Today, we would like to call on the leaders, some of which are present here, the families, the schools, and the churches of New York City to begin a movement of compassion.”

Congress woman, Yvette Clarke mentioned that, “This march is about people understanding that violence is not the answer; that we can disagree without being violent; that we can resolve conflict without causing harm, death, and impairment; that through love, through compassion, all violence can be overcome.” She further commended the Seventh-day Adventist church for urging the young people to demonstrate compassion based on what they learn in their congregations.

Dr. Donald King, president of the Atlantic Union Conference, briefly described to the media that, “More than 400 ‘compassionate evangelistic meetings’ that will take place over the next 7 – 8 months. These meetings reflect our part of the global church initiative to reach urban cities with the gospel of Jesus Christ, known as NY13.”
  Photo: Greater New York Conference on Facebook
The march officially started after the press conference with thousands of youth walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Passers-by would take pictures of the group curious to know what the march was about. NAD President, Dan Jackson, marched in the front of the line and was pleased to see so many youth involved.

The marchers stopped in front of city hall to briefly pray for New York City and for the government officials. They continued to march through lower Manhattan and made their final stop at Foley Square.

The rally began with songs followed by Pastor Cortes, Jr. welcoming all participants. Youth leaders from local conferences stopped by to show their support at the rally and offered a few words to say.

GNYC youth director, Andres Peralta, reminded the young people to “make compassion be part of your lifestyle”; Roger Wade, NEC youth director, urged the young people to “show more compassion”, Paul Messina from New Jersey, uttered that “Jesus is the ultimate compassionate one; he died to show compassion on us.” Alvin Kibble, NAD vice president, said to “keep living the gospel every day”; Josue Bueno from Allegheny East pleaded for the youth to “be more like Jesus,” but it was NAD president, Dan Jackson, who summed it best. In paraphrasing the famous words of John F. Kennedy, Jackson noted to, ‘Ask not what New York can do for you, ask what you can do for New York.’ ”

By 6:00 p.m. the rally came to a close with a vigil as thousands of young people sang to the tune of ‘Make Me a Servant’. Four young people representing different conferences prayed to close the rally.

This compassion weekend in New York City has already set the tone for four more compassion weekends, which will be held once per year. Upcoming rallies will be located at: Portland, Maine (2014); Hamilton (2015); Worcester (2016); Syracuse/Rochester (2017). For further information on these compassion events and/or how you can serve, visit http://www.compassion-now.orgSee more photos.
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
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