Jesus in the City Parade plans to march on the waterfront
Bishop Robert McIntosh of Maranatha Ministries has spent the past seven years trying to bring Jesus In The City Parade to Kingston, Jamaica. On October 27, his dream will become a reality when an amalgamation of churches will march en masse to the waterfront for a praise and worship concert. The bishop told The Gleaner that he frequently travels between Jamaica and Canada, and on one visit, he met with a group of fellow church leaders who were recalling the inception of the parade.
"What impacted me was when I heard that the mayor of Toronto shut down and cordoned off a major part of downtown Toronto to accommodate all the churches that would come together in unity. There were all denominations marching to celebrate this festival of praise," he said.
Following that encounter , he participated in the festivities. "Something happened to me. I had an out-of-body experience. All I could see was Jamaica; and Jamaicans crying out to God and calling for intervention. I started to cry over Jamaica." That was about seven years ago. Upon his return to the island, the church leader began laying plans to introduce the event at home.
Not About Carnival
The holy-man, affectionately known as Pastor Bobby, denies the rampant belief that the church has conceptualised the event as a response to Carnival celebrations. "It's not about Carnival. It's about uniting all the churches in every nook and cranny. We allowed the public to continue with that line of thought, but it has nothing to do with Carnival. It's just the Church coming together." He continued, "Over the years, I've been talking to pastors and prominent businessmen in every sector of Jamaica. We actually did it last year, but on a smaller scale," he said.
Jesus in the City/Festival of Praise International is a registered charitable organisation which conducts outdoor music festivals and concerts, gospel parades, worship conferences, training seminars and community pastors' breakfasts. The organisation has been established in Canada since 1999, and in the United States since 2003, with a mission to celebrate love for God and love for people through music, the arts, and culture.
The event includes floats illustrating scenes and themes from the Bible, marching bands, choirs, congregants and church leaders.
So far, Pastor Bobby has confirmed churches in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine. "The umbrella groups of churches are all on board. Anyone else want to join, they are open. We are hoping to attract thousands. This is a national cry out to God for his intervention. It will be a unified Church, waving banners and praising God," he reiterated.
The parade is slated to have two branches. One group will begin its march from Heroes Circle, while another group, led by Bishop Rohan Edwards of Lighthouse Assembly Church of God (Ten Thousand Man March), will make its way from Three Miles then down Spanish Town Road, before converging for a major concert on the waterfront.
"We're gonna be marching and we're gonna have flatbed trucks with people marching behind them. We want to mobilise all of Cross Roads, all of Kingston. It's not the type of Christian concert with people jumping up and screaming. It's praising a cry- out to God for his intervention."
So far, Pastor Bobby reports to have secured the commitments of entertainers Wayne Marshall and Sister Marion Hall for the concert. "We're hoping to have the prime minister and the head of the security forces come and say something to the people," he added.