Greetings by Hon. Volda Lawrence, M.P., Minister of Public Health on Observance of the 175th Anniversary of the St. Bartholomew Anglican Church, October 24, 2017

Good Afternoon and Greetings in God’s Holy Name!

Psalm 95 says: Oh come let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the Great God, and the Great King above all gods. Does this week’s celebration deserve praises to the Almighty? Do we need to shout praises of thanksgiving? Yes, without any doubt, so let us all, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, shout in unison: Alleluia, to God be the Glory, Great things He has done!

Reverend Garfield Develler, Priest in Charge, Ms. Ruslyn Alves-Amsterdam, Priest Warden, Ms. Verina Singh-Rasheed, People’s Warden, Ms. Veronica Pansy Jones, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, Church Organizations, and all Members of the Congregation and friends of the St. Bartholomew Anglican Church, it is my distinct pleasure and honour to be celebrating this auspicious occasion with you, the 175th Anniversary of the Church. I wish to offer all of you my sincere congratulations on the achievement of this significant and prestigious milestone, and to say what a privilege it is for me to be here today, in the Queenstown community, which boasts of such a rich heritage and legacy.

Members of the St. Bartholomew Anglican Church and of the community of Queenstown, it is only fitting that we should mark this occasion by giving thanks to God for our forbearers whose strong collective will and sense of purpose as well as their enterprising spirit laid the cornerstone over a century ago, so that we can stand today proudly and celebrate. We cannot commemorate without acknowledging the pain, humiliation and torture that our forbearers would have experienced at the hands of their colonial masters and finally the great sacrifice and their vision as they pooled their resources to liberate and empower themselves, so that we their descendants can reap the fruits of their labour. Sisters and brothers, our foreparents were highminded men and women of faith, courage, resilience and foresight. Theirs is a lesson of fortitude and cohesion which we should emulate at all costs. Our social situation when compared with theirs pales in significance and yet they found the strength to persevere, fight and  surmount the obstacles that confronted them.

Today, two centuries later, I dare to ask the question: What has become of that cohesiveness which our fore-parents so brilliantly displayed, that cooperativism that saw the emergence of the village movement and the visible testimony of their undaunted efforts and struggles, this historic building in which we are all housed at the moment, whose architecture and design simulate the early ships that brought slaves to the Caribbean from the African Coast; have their leadership and inspirational  qualities been obliterated  from our minds, have their tedious and intelligent  efforts to build a strong economic base through Agriculture been overshadowed and neglected, and what about their love of togetherness which sadly has been replaced now by hate, violence, abuse, murder; what has happened to the rich cultural folklore which brought families together on many a moonlit night to listen to the many traditional tales that helped to cement families, to foster a bond of unity and to strengthen family relationships so that depression and suicide were kept at bay?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on the occasion of this your 175th Anniversary celebration, I wish to celebrate the community’s  rich history, and applaud your efforts at developing this community thus far, but I want to emphasize that much more needs to be done so that our villages and communities can endorse and accomplish that which   was requested in the message that His Excellency delivered to the members of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in commemoration of their 175th Anniversary earlier in October. His Excellency, The President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, called upon “all churches of all denominations and faiths and all Guyanese to start a new movement built on the Pillars of the Village Movement from which this nation was birthed; His Excellency emphasized that the “rich legacy and hard earned gains of the nation’s forbearers must be safe guarded and productively used to enhance the living standards of all citizens”.

My fellow parishioners in Christ, I am also endorsing that message. God’s Word exhorts us at Galatians 6:10 to help whenever we can. It reads: Therefore as we have opportunity let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. God loves us all unconditionally and made the greatest sacrifice as is recorded at John 3:16, which we all know from our Sunday school days. Let us therefore heed God’s commandment at John 13:34 instructing us to love one another as He has loved us, and guided by the   principles of our fore-parents, strive to improve the lot of the less fortunate in our villages and communities, to reach out to the vulnerable in our society, to set aside our differences, our malice and anger and demonstrate kindness and brotherly love and in so doing help to eliminate the violence that is prevalent in our midst.

Greetings in God’s Awesome and Wondrous Name! May His Light shine on all your activities organized to highlight this Anniversary, and May the Church continue to play a meaningful role in nurturing and educating the youths in all the surrounding villages and communities. God is the Infinite source of Power, Grace and Love. May we glorify Him and draw upon His fullness of joy and transmit it to others so that the transformation of lives in all our villages, communities and regions can be realized.

God bless you all.

Thank you.

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