The 2019 Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) got off to a rousing start Monday with a packed house gathering to enjoy welcome activities offered by the meeting’s Bahamian hosts.
A string of dignitaries were introduced and recognized by name and title again and again following a formal protocol characteristic of Caribbean culture. A half-dozen speakers brought greetings or mini-sermons to the gathered group, with a jubilant sense of island joy bubbling through the introductory formalities.
A combined choir from churches of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Education Convention sang with spirit, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band rocked the house with a mixture of secular and sacred music: people were dancing in the aisles to a chorus of “I’ll Fly Away.”
After more than two hours of song and speeches, the evening concluded with a colorful parade by the “Junkanoo All-Stars.” Junkanoo is like a mini-Mardi Gras parade, with dancers and musicians clad in elaborate costumes — the gaudier and more feathery, the better.
The hosts also provided gift bags and refreshments featuring local cuisines to close the night as visitors were encouraged to enjoy their stay, leave lots of money in the local economy, and depart “with sand in your shoes and a song in your heart.”