Saturday, July 7 was a day of worship in North Bergen and nearby towns when hundreds of people and leaders of 13 local churches came together as part of a worldwide movement that made its way to Hudson County.
The churches from Hudson County came together for one reason, their representatives said: to bring God back into the cities of Hudson County. The “God Belongs In My City” movement actually began in New York City in 2009 and has spread worldwide, including Switzerland, Florida, Puerto Rico and Africa.
Francisco Fernandez, the pastor of the Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, La Senda church in Guttenberg, was among those leading the local walk. He was aided by local walk coordinator Caroline Baustista, and promoter Yessica Ortega, along with several others, led a procession along Bergenline Avenue to apply prayer to local issues involving youth, schools, businesses, alcoholics, drug addicts, and government corruption.
‘God Belongs In My City’ began in New York City in 2009 and has spread worldwide, including Switzerland, Florida, Puerto Rico and Africa.
“It’s a group thing, it’s not just us,” said Ortega. “Everybody’s working on something.”
Baustista is the newcomer to the group. She has been a Christian for two and a half years, while Ortega, of Union City, has been a parishioner for 16 years. Both said that prayers were recited on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays for two months leading up to the event, and they notified people by word of mouth, Facebook, flyers, a promotional video done by the youth leaders, and on Christian radio stations.
“We want people to realize we’re not just there to be judging or to promote a specific religion itself but just to give hope to the community,” said Ortega.
“To show people that there are a group of people who are not ashamed to say God is here,” said Baustista.
Their church’s youth group, God’s Generation, wanted to make their community aware that God still exists and belongs in the city as well as in their hearts. They want to bring hope to the majority Hispanic Community.
“Instead of sitting back and complaining about things, [we’re] making a stand and doing something about it,” said Ortega.
A large, joyous group met at North Bergen High School where they prayed for the youth of today and the teachers who are guiding them.
“A lot of them are going through pain,” said Tamir Reyes. “Father, they are yours, this generation is yours. Through you, Father God, they will make a difference in their schools, in the lives of their friends and families. We pray for the schools and teachers, for they are teaching the new generation.”
From the high school they walked from 76th street to 60th street and Bergenline Avenue with a police escort from each of the towns.
The prayers were individual as well as universal. “To pray for the city and peace, because with peace we will have peace,” said Pastor Fernandez.
Parishioners also prayed for businesses in the area.
“Father, we raise our hands unto you,” said one of the parishioners. “We pray for businesses from North Bergen all the way to Jersey City. That your name will no longer be a shame but a glory.”
Drugs and alcohol plaguing society were addressed in prayer also.
“How can you tell the Creator he doesn’t belong where he created?” said another parishioner. “We pray that you set our city and our community, our children in our city free from all drugs and alcohol.”
The last prayer was for the government and authorities serving the people of Hudson County.
“We pray for the protection of the authorities, of the police department, the fire department – help them and their families for the work that they are doing to keep this city safe,” said Pastor Tania Fuentes from West New York’s Love of Jesus Family Church.
Between prayers, songs of worship echoed off the streets, drawing the attention of residents and motorists despite the hot summer day.
“We will cry out your name, from the rooftops, I proclaim that I am yours, I am yours,” they sang.
In front of the West New York Town Hall, Pastor Fernandez found someone in law enforcement that supports the cause.
“As a Christian, I’m in support of this movement,” said West New York Patrolman Luis Gonzalez.
For more information, go to GodBelongsInMyCity.com.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org