More than 3,000 Seventh-day Adventist youth and supporters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York last Saturday in a demonstration calling for compassion and an end to violence.
Each participant wore a red and white t-shirt depicting a hand forming the shape of a heart sign. The t-shirt slogan read: “Compassion: Because Actions Speak Louder Than Words.”
The event was part of a three-day “Compassion Weekend” youth and community service rally sponsored by the Adventist Church. The march was preceded by a press conference in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza and drew church leaders and government representatives.
“Today, we would like to call on the leaders … the families, the schools and the churches of New York City to begin a movement of compassion,” said Jose Cortez Jr., Youth Ministries director for the Adventist Church’s Atlantic Union.
“It is our resolve to take this movement across the Northeast of our country and have it replicated across the world by other Adventist youth and young adults,” he said.
U.S. Congresswoman and Brooklyn native Yvette Clarke, who represents New York’s 9th District, commended the Seventh-day Adventist church for urging young people to demonstrate compassion based on what they learn in their congregations.
“This march is about people understanding that violence is not the answer; that we can disagree without being violent; that we can resolve conflict without causing harm, death and impairment; that through love, through compassion, all violence can be overcome,” Clarke said at the conference.
Participants marched across the bridge into Manhattan and stopped in front of City Hall to briefly pray for New York City and government officials. They continued to march through lower Manhattan and ended at Foley Square.
Separately, Ricardo Bain, pastor of the Queens Faith Temple, led a group of some 400 Adventist youth in conducting a flash mob in Times Square. Participants emerged from crowds to chant the words, “I am the hands of Jesus; I share the love of Jesus”, along with singing “O, How I Love Jesus.” The mob ended with youth disbursing into small groups to pray with passers-by.
Atlantic Union President Don King said the event is a precursor to more than 400 evangelistic meetings that will take place in and around New York City over the next eight months. The meetings are part of the Adventist Church’s NY13 initiative to reach urban areas with the gospel.
The Compassion Weekend in New York City is the first in a series of annual rallies for the Adventist Church in the Northeast. Upcoming rallies are scheduled for Portland, Maine, in 2014; Hamilton, Bermuda, in 2015; Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2016; and Syracuse, New York, in 2017. For more information, visit compassion-now.org.