The Revd Canon Dr William Taylor describes the colourful celebrations at St John’s Notting Hill. 

The Filipino community turned out in their hundreds in Notting Hill for two Thy Kingdom Come events.

Ascension Day launched the Thy Kingdom Come period between Ascension and Pentecost, and St John’s Notting Hill hosted a joyful celebration of a Sung Eucharist with dancing, a party and fireworks, with the Bishop of Islington, Ric Thorpe, presiding and preaching. The top of Notting Hill (where the church is) is an excellent place to launch firework rockets, which happened at the end of the service to celebrate the cosmic Christ and to let the surrounding community know of the celebration. The offertory dance celebrated the power of love, waiting for the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday 29th May saw a colourful street procession of Filipinos in national costume to celebrate Flores de Mayo around Notting Hill. In its origin, Flores de Mayo celebrates the Empress Helena (the mother of Constantine) as the Protector of the Holy Places. The street procession is followed by a ‘competition’ for the best costume, the most colourful decorated arch, and the best dancing group.  But this isn’t a conventional competition with winners and losers. Fr Larry Galon, the Filipino Chaplain of the Diocese of London, explained at the start of the judging that “all are winners”. Dances were both traditional and modern, and the crowning ceremony didn’t celebrate physical beauty but the cardinal virtues – Queens of faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, prudence and generosity.

The Filipino Chaplaincy makes a vital contribution to the spiritual and physical health of the community, which is very aware of their contribution as evidenced by the spontaneous applause for them in the streets and in the church.  Colour, vibrancy, and faith are offered to London by the presence of so many faithful Filipinos.  Mabuhay Pilipinas!

The Revd Canon Dr William Taylor is Vicar of St John’s Notting Hill.