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SEEN UP NORTH: NY welcomes consul general

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

SEEN UP NORTH: NY welcomes consul general

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THE CHURCH has long been a powerful force in the life of Barbadians and their Caribbean neighbours.

​And when they immigrate to far-flung areas of the world, especially North America and the United Kingdom, they take that tradition with them, allowing it to serve as an anchor for their daily existence.

So, it didn’t come as a surprise when the country’s new consul general in New York, Dr Donna Hunte-Cox, a former director of the National Cultural Foundation, used a church service in Brooklyn to be introduced and welcomed to the five boroughs.

“What a wonderful day to be in the house of the Lord and to be here with all of you well-wishers of the Barbados Diaspora in New York,” she told the congregation at the Beulah Church of the Nazarene, which has played host to several functions arranged by the Consulate-General and Barbadian organisations in the past quarter of a century.

​​Musical tributes

​Amid calls for divine guidance, musical tributes led by Peter Mayers at the organ, prayers by Judy Linton and Bishop Randolph Bowen, scripture readings by Joseph Goddard, Barbados’ Ambassador at the United Nations and Christian Hylton, a City attorney and a member of the Young Barbadian Professional Society; a sermon by the Reverend Oral Walcott and a blessing by Canon Llewellyn Armstrong, a couple hundred worshippers heard the new consul general pledge to make the diaspora the “principal area” of her focus during her term of office.

By diaspora, she meant the Bajans in the 11 states that comprise her office’s jurisdiction: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

“I therefore aim to develop strategic alliance with key persons within these all 11 states,” she explained.

Hunte-Cox, who assumed duties last month, succeeding Lennox Price who served for six years, listed several goals which would form the core of her “strategic focus.

They include:

• Conducting a dialogue with more than 50 organisations in order to develop a “strategic vision”.

• Working with the youth to assist them in realising their “human potential” and making the best use of opportunities in the United States.

• Developing “outreach” educational programmes that could “ultimately lead to formulating” memoranda of understanding with key educational institutions.

• Promoting the history and culture of Barbados.

• Assisting Bajans who are planning to relocate their birthplace to Barbados by “providing them with the necessary information” that would make the transition smooth.

A key step is the convening of a “mini conference” which the Consulate General is now planning for next year in New York. It would be a follow-up to the recent network consultation in Barbados.

“We want you to be aware of the information that is critical to you” and that was disseminated there, she added.

In a sermon, Reverend Walcott of the Beulah Church said people of all walks of life, “regardless of position” were called to service and “we must work at it” energetically. As he saw it, the call wasn’t restricted to priests, pastors and other religious ministers or to government officials, such as consuls general.

Inevitable comparison

​He urged Hunte-Cox, John Blackman, and the rest of the staff of the government offices to be themselves and not be concerned about the inevitable comparison with their predecessors.

​“You must be yourself,” he advised.

Randy Brathwaite, president of the Council of Barbadian Organisations in New York, the umbrella body that brings together more than a dozen Bajan associations in the City, suggested that Hunte-Cox use the opportunity of her vast “jurisdiction” to help spur the growth of the Barbadian community.

“You will have the opportunity to work with different organisations,” he said.

For his part, Canon Armstrong, an Anglican priest in Brooklyn who also serves at St Leonard’s Church, a 75-year-old independent Barbadian church on Putnam Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, said Barbados was facing great challenges, economic and otherwise, and the country’s leaders must accept God’s guidance, regardless of their political affiliations.

Steven Legall, who owns and operates one of the largest funeral homes in Brooklyn, was presented with the Barbados Network Conference’s 2014 Minister’s award.