Hackney Adventist Church Peace March Covered on ITV News

7th June 2019

The British Union Conference (BUC) designated two consecutive Sabbaths as a day of silent prayer in local communities being impacted by gun and knife crime.

Churches across the BUC were called to rise up in prayer and take back their streets during the 'Power of Silence Neigbourhood 85549Prayer Walk' against gun and knife crime on Sabbath 18 and 25 May 2019. Among the churches who accepted the call to prayer on this national crisis was the Hackney Adventist church. Clothed in a garment of red to symbolise the bloodshed in the country by knives while also representing the shed blood of Christ for those lives cruelly taken, Hackney members silently walked in pairs on Sabbath 25 May ‒ the silence in tribute to those sadly taken from our communities.

The special day of prayer was followed by a peace march against gun and knife crime in the community of Hackney which took place on bank holiday Monday 27 May 2019. Led by members of the Hackney Seventh-day Adventist church, based on Haggerston Road, the march brought together the council members including Hackney Mayor, Philip Glanville, Cllr Ian Rathbone and Cllr Carole Williams as well as community leaders and members of the public concerned with the rise in knife crime throughout the country.

Leading the march (from Haggerston to Dalston Square) were members from the Pathfinders Club ‒ a church-based club for young people. Many members of the public opened their windows, front doors or businesses to look out to see the group of young drummers making noise for all the right reasons in letting people know that the bloodshed on the streets must stop and that the lives of young people were important. There was no shortage of media coverage either as ITV News London, the Hackney Gazette and Adventist Radio London ensured that the peace march was given the respective national, local and spiritual attention it deserved.

In a passionate speech in Dalston Square, Hackney Seventh-day Adventist minister, Pastor Joojo Bonnie, said, "We are fed up with 85550the dying, we are fed up with the gun violence and we are fed up with the knife killing. We need to come together as one community and take a stand against this issue plaguing our communities."

Hackney Mayor, Philip Glanville, publicly thanked the Hackney Adventist church for taking a lead in bringing the community together in solidarity in a fight against an issue which has now become a national epidemic. He said, "It is very clear that the communities of Hackney care about our young people. The council and I as Mayor believe in our young people and marches like this are important to show that the community can come together in a spirit of peace and harmony."

Cllr Ian Rathbone, who is responsible for the faith communities in Hackney, was complementary of the role the church can play in addressing such issues. "We know that the police and the government can do things. But it is us (the community and the church) which can do the most. Without us, the work cannot succeed but with us (together) we can succeed." 

Cllr Rathbone also recognised the Pathfinders Drum Corps, composed of young people not just from Hackney church but also from Dagenham, Grays, Ilford, Plaistow, Stoke Newington and Stratford (amongst others) as a fitting illustration of this solidarity which he aforementioned. Cllr Rathbone read a few verses from the Bible in 1st John, encouraging the community to love each other because love is from God.

Also attending the peace march was the Trans-European Director for Teens and Community Services, Pastor Alastair Agbaje, who said, "This is the second successive year this church has led a march and I am very impressed with the way the local church has collaborated with other organisations and church groups to positively impact the local community."

Media coverage before and during the march was given by Adventist Radio London. Drive Time Presenter, Nigel Maunganidze, 85551spoke to Hackney church Assistant Youth Leader, Michaela Mathieu-Marius who said, "Ambition is important to young people. What images are they seeing around them as they grow up? Are they seeing people who are studying, going to university and wanting to do something better with their lives? If they are not seeing positive images within their community to aspire to then sadly their inspiration will come from elsewhere."

Deji Adeoshun, Youth Leadership Manager for Hackney Council told Nigel that the church has a key role to play in reaching out to youth within the community. He said, "Churches can employ young people to run positive activities in the communities. Churches must reach out to these young people and give them this opportunity before they are caught up with other influences which lead to a life of crime with the result, in some cases, of death due to knife crime." 

Hackney's peace march was given extensive coverage during ITV News London 6:00 pm broadcast. Hackney Pathfinder, Riann Brooks, was one of those interviewed by ITV News presenter, Antoine Allen. She told the ITV News presenter why marching for youth on the day was important, "I think it's important for people to see that young people are doing something positive. It's good for other young people to see that there's another option ‒ they don't have to go into a life of crime and so today we're just making a stand to show that we are against knife crime."

The peace march and all that transpired before it ended as it had begun ‒ with prayer. 85556Hackney's first elder, John Mathieu prayed for the families who had been directly impacted by gun and knife crime. He said: "We do not believe that any of us have the solution to this problem, but we believe sincerely in our hearts that God whom we serve cares for us so much has and will provide the solution to this problem."

Since the beginning of the year there have been over 100 fatal stabbings in the UK. However, on this day of peace, as the drumming and marching came to an end, the heavens opened, outpouring a shower of blessing upon us all.

See video of the ITN News coverage below.


[Darell J Philip]


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