Rastafari Church and Cultural Center opening
MIAMI - The First Rastafari Church & Cultural Center of Florida(FRCCC) will host the opening of their location on June 16 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. This mini-festival is a family inspired event and will take place at 16280 NW 27th Avenue in Miami Gardens. The event is free and open to the public. The MC for the day is Empress Yvette Marshall, radio personality at WAVS Radio. The FRCCC is a space where people can thrive in the center’s open, collaborative and accessible area.
"The essence of Community is common unity. It takes a village to raise a child,” said Priest Douggie, Head of Cultural Activities for FRCCC. With this in mind, the administration of the FRCCC aims to recreate the village atmosphere in which unity of purpose empowers the black community to challenge the problems that hamper its positive growth.
The Rastafari narrative is more than a religion, it’s a way of life, social movement and mindset. June 16th marks the birthday of the founder of the Rastafarian movement, Jamaican Leonard P. Howell, an anti-colonial figure who joined Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in New York.
The organizers have planned a day filled with talks that will tackle issues facing communities as it relates to mental health, depression, and suicide.
The FRCCC is set to showcase different aspects of the Rastafarian heritage and culture based on the wealthy and diverse Rastafarian lifestyle and history.
Scheduled activities for June 16 include a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a discussion on mental health, depression and suicide by Keven Toliver Lyons, Executive Director of the Susan D. Lyons Foundation. The day will also include an African Storyteller/ Drummers Story hour powered by Story-Teller Baba Aday; and Benton Curry, President of the Florida Division 525 of the UNIA-ACL (Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League) as well as the Director of the New Jerusalem University will give an overview of the UNIA-ACL and its newest division.
Kesha Bowers, a clinical social worker, will speak about Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder and its effects on our community; and Baba Pearson, an elder naturalist and healer will speak on health and wellness. The festivities will culminate with a screening of “First Rasta,” by Helena Lee. The First Rastafari Church and Cultural Center is hosting a mini-festival to mark its opening on June 16.
A recognition service earlier this month recognized the carpenters, masons and others who built the new church, as well as the emergency responders who were at fire.
“It's really been overwhelming,'' said Ralph Livsey, chairman of St. Paul's board of trustees. “We have been working nonstop for the last three weeks day and night trying to prepare for the service, plus finish putting the church together ... We just finished moving all of the stuff over here from RCAC and purchased all this furniture. We're still trying to get appliances hooked up and still have a ways to go yet.''
The Rev. Mitchel Nickols of the Bibleway Church in New Kensington was the guest speaker at the dedication ceremony, which featured choirs from St. Paul, Oakmont Presbyterian and Oakmont United Methodist churches.
“The real work begins after the building is built,'' he said.“There's a community that still needs to be impacted. There's a region that needs to be touched. There are people who's lives need to be changed. So the real work begins now so that it does not fall into the hands of just a few people.''
The message of unity was evident throughout Sunday. More than 100 people attended morning service with even more at the after noon dedication.
“God has just one army of willing soldiers, and we're going to stand united,'' said Greene, who thanked everyone involved in the project and those who supported the church throughout the years.
People mingled, shared stor ies and food following the dedication.
“We survived because it's God's will that this church be here,'' Griff in said. “I'm going to do the best I can do and support the church the very best I can.''
According to the “Afr ican American Histor ic Sites Sur vey of Allegheny County,'' the old church was built i n 1874 by an Episcopal congregation. St. Paul's congregation, Oakmont's f i rst black church, f ormed in 1905 and bought t he wood f rame structure i n 1924.
A month before the fire, former longtime pastor Rev. Morgan James Reynolds died at the age of 93. He had served as pastor at St. Paul Baptist f or more than 40 years, from 1966 to 2009.