Playing mas for Jesus last Saturday – September 11 – was significant for First Baptist Church of Toronto interim pastor Wendell Gibbs.
On that date nine years ago, early morning terrorist attacks in the eastern United States left nearly 3,000 people dead.
Gibbs and other churchgoers in the Greater Toronto Area who took part in the 11th annual Jesus in the City parade and gospel concert at Queen’s Park clearly remembered the events of 9/11 and the impact it has had on the world.
“Today is the anniversary of one of the most devastating human tragedies and we pray for our neighbours across the border,” said Gibbs, who has participated in the parade from the inception. “This is a significant day for us because it means that the church is alive and well in spite of evil that pervades the world. We care about what is happening around the globe and we want to march and we want to walk and demonstrate that we care about people wherever they are.
“Another thing that’s important is that we are assembled on the lawn of Queen’s Park where just a few weeks ago this was the scene of some unpleasant happenings during the G-20 conference. Those images contrast with what is happening here today. We want to show the world that people from many diverse backgrounds can co-exist in peace and love.”
The Jesus in the City parade is the brainchild of Rev. Ayanna Solomon who has ministered in several Caribbean countries, including Belize and St. Kitts, where she established the World Impact Bible Institute and worked as a missionary for three years.
A total of 25 floats, among them newcomers New Life Church’s Russian Assembly, Remax and Riverside Missionary Evangelical Church, paraded through the streets of downtown Toronto.
Six floats took part in the inaugural parade that presents a colourful montage of Biblical costumes, banners, flags and dancers.
“The event has grown in a big way over the years and the reason we are still doing it is because people keep asking for it,” said Solomon, the founding president of Festival of Praise International. “There are so many parades and expressions of people’s faith and what they believe in…We just love to sing, dance, worship and generally spread joy.”
Other participants in this year’s float parade included Humberlea Worship Centre, East Scarborough Pentecostal Church, Living Water Assembly, Faith Sanctuary, Destiny Dominion Worship Centre, Mountain of Fire, the Korean Assembly Church and Catholic Charismatic Renewal.