Giving thanks for going through another hurricane season unscathed, 25 people of various faiths gathered at Iglesia Metodista Hispana church at a Breakfast and Prayer Service on Catherine’s Rest Road Friday to celebrate the 22nd annual Hurricane Thanksgiving .
The Breakfast and Prayer Service has been celebrated on Veterans Day, a tradition that allows residents a chance to attend the breakfast and service. Organizers, however, said the number of folks actually showing up at the service has dwindled over the years.
Will Woods, pastor at Altona Baptist Church, who has been associated with the Interfaith Coalition for around 10 years, said that back in the 1950s people gathered together in churches all over the island to open and close the hurricane season with prayer. He also said the coalition is the only group he is aware of doing the service, and the numbers of those coming out to give praise and thanks has declined.
“We still come to give thanks during this season for sparing our lives,” Woods said.
Alice Wise, president of Unity of St. Croix, said she remembers as a child that people would get down on their knees in prayer. “We feel prayer takes us through the storms safely,” she said.
Rafael Quinones, pastor of the host church, gave the opening prayer. He played a metal scratch instrument and the church choir sang rousing songs of praise accompanied by drums and keyboard.
Ten leaders of faith, from the Nation of Islam to Beulah African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, gave words of praise and offered prayers for being spared from major storms.
Some of those offering prayers of thanksgiving included Rod Koopmans of St. Croix Reformed Church, Richard Muhammad from the Nation of Islam, Richard Austin, a pastor at Beulah African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Dani Settle of Virgin Islands Buddhism, and Jerry Weninger of the Baha’i faith.
Cy Levine from the Jewish Community Center sang a lovely song of Jerusalem in Hebrew and then English.
The coalition is an organization that brings the community together through a brotherhood of faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Bahá’ís, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, and Ifa/Yoruba.
The coalition was started by a group of ministers in 1989 right after Hurricane Hugo devastated the island of St. Croix. The ministers coordinated efforts to help repair homes, get information in and out, and supplies and materials in.
Jerry Weninger, board member and an officer of Interfaith Coalition, and one of the original volunteers, said attendance may be down because people have become complacent with no big storms in recent years. He said the last big one was Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
Tahirah Abubakr, president of Interfaith Coalition, said coming together as a community, as they did today, and serving the community is what the coalition is about.
Julia Claxon, parishioner at Iglesia Metodista Hispana and coalition member, along with other volunteers prepared a Crucian breakfast for 30. The church ladies served salt fish, eggplant, greens, hardboiled eggs, Johnny cake, bread, and beverages.
Claxon said the church has been hosting the event for the past 10 years. The parish picked up the bill for the food and donated all of the proceeds to the coalition.
Interfaith Coalition is an agency of the United Way of St. Croix.