The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas
Leeward Islands District Conference
President & General Superintendent 13A Solberg Estate
Bishop Charles A. Seaton P.O. Box 1045
Tel: 340 774 6211/0797 Charlotte Amalie
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org St. Thomas USVI 00804
18th January, 2019
PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CONGREGATIONS
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It is indeed a special joy for us to greet you from the “One Happy Island” Aruba, a Dutch/Papiamento speaking Circuit of our Leeward Islands District Conference, as we assemble in the 5th Meeting of the Leeward Islands District Council under the leadership of our District President, Bishop The Rev’d Charles A. Seaton. We are most grateful to Almighty God, who has guarded, kept and guided us by His unerring Spirit over the past year and has brought us safely to this time and place.
The Council records its sincere thanks and appreciation to the Superintendent Minister the Rev’d Nichola Barrett-Glasgow and members of the Aruba Circuit for their gracious hospitality. Through their labours of love and their outpouring of warmth and generosity, we have been made to feel most welcome. We highly commend the Aruba Circuit and pray that God will continue to bless all of its endeavours.
In addition to our clergy and lay delegates, the Council was privileged to welcome among us for the first time, our Connexional President, Bishop The Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith who extended greetings on behalf of Connexional Vice President Mrs. Yonnett F. Greaves, Connexional Secretary Rev’d Glenna Spencer and Treasurer of Conference Funds Mr. Quincy Bourne. Bishop Galbraith challenged the Ministerial Council to respond to the urgent need in this 51st year of our autonomy and, during this triennium to use various opportunities to reflect on the Connexional theme: “Facing The Task Unfinished: Imagine”.
HIGHLIGHTS OF DISTRICT COUNCIL 2019
Our District Council which ran from January 11 – 19 was preceded by the Ministerial Council that convened on January 11. As part of our deliberations we were introduced to the District Council’s Theme for the year namely: – “Grounded In Christ: Loving-Serving- Rejoicing“. This theme inspires in us a sense and feeling of being anchored in Jesus Christ the Rock of our Salvation. This is particularly encouraging given that a little over a year ago we were wind-blown, tempest- tossed and traumatized by the passage of two disastrous hurricanes, Our theme therefore lends credence to the sentiments of the hymn (VIP 202) that despite the troubles we have seen, we may find in Christ the “ground wherein our souls anchor may remain”. It is with this assurance that our theme holds out to us the renewed hopes of “Loving-Serving-Rejoicing”, as we face the various challenges in the year ahead.
The District Council Welcome Service held on January 14 in the spacious Christchurch Chapel in San Nicolas brought together the Council delegates, members of the clergy of other denominations, government officials and the general membership of the Aruba Circuit. This service engendered a refreshing experience reflecting the rich offerings of our faith and the diversity of our District.
One of the challenging moments of the service was the engaging sermon delivered by District Bishop, Rev’d Charles A. Seaton. His main points were centered on the new triennium theme which is “Grounded in Christ: Loving-Serving-Rejoicing.” The passage chosen to support the theme was Colossians 2: 6-7. The Bishop’s Sermon makes the bold assertion, that because we have been grounded in Christ, the natural outcome is that of Loving, Serving and Rejoicing. It is hoped that this will become more than a slogan and would aid in stimulating thought and action about our “grounding” in Christ. Consequently, this will aid us in becoming more loving, understanding and to embrace our service to the Church more fully and consistently. Emerging from this passage is the call for us to be deeply grounded in the faith. Grounding in the faith requires knowing that faith. Too many of our members reflect little knowledge of what the church believes and teaches. A church grounded and rooted in Christ should be a Church in which the members are knitted together in love, as without love there is no real Church.
In a very moving service, the Rev’d Andrine J. Joseph and Rev’d Ruth Pratt, itinerant presbyters and the Rev’d Doris A. Lynch-Gibbs and Rev’d M. Liana Richardson-Woods, Local Presbyters from the St Maarten Circuit were ordained to the Word and Sacrament on Thursday, January 17, 2019. At the Ordination Service, the Ordinands each gave an impressive account of their conversion experience, call to preach and commitment to the Ministry of Christ. The Connexional Bishop in his message charged the Ordinands to “Be Focused”. He called their attention to a text taken from 2 Timothy 4:5 which reads “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” He challenged the Ordinands to: (1) Be focused on the dignity of your call; (2) Be focused on the duty assigned; and (3) Be focused on being dependable. We wish all the newly ordained Ministers well and trust that, strengthened and guided by God, they will remain true and faithful to their calling.
Council Communion Service
As is customary, our Council climaxed on January 18 with the Council Communion Service. The preacher at this Service was the Rev’d Vincia Celestine whose reflection provided a fitting closure for our Council. Focusing on this year’s theme, Rev’d Celestine issued the reminder that being “grounded” in Christ has practical implications. This should translate in: allowing Christ to influence our culture; serving without counting the cost; reflecting a love that gives and forgives; and rejoicing with joy unspeakable.
This year, the Council was pleased to welcome the Rev’d Wendell Samuel, a recent graduate from the United Theological College of the West Indies, presently stationed in the Nevis Circuit. We extend welcome to Rev’d Morna Christmas- Frazer who was transferred from the Jamaica District and stationed in the Dominica Circuit. We also welcomed back to the District the Rev’d Patmore C. Henry who recently demitted the office of Connexional Secretary.
We place on record our profound gratitude and sincere congratulations to the Rev’d Alberic Rohan and Rev’d Joyce Rohan on their retirement from active ministry. By the end of this church year Rev’d Alberic Rohan and Rev’d Joyce Rohan would have completed 45 and 43 years of ministry, respectively.
This year the Council was pleased to advance three Probationers in their probation studies. The Council was also pleased to approve three ministers, Rev’d Veillance Bastien (Itinerant Presbyter), Rev’d Othniel Daly (Local Presbyter) and Rev’d Celina Walton-Charles (Deacon) for reception into full Connexion. We wish them well as they prepare for Ordination.
We extend heartiest congratulations to the Rev’d Nichola Barrett-Glasgow and her husband Marcel on the birth of their second daughter Anka Malia Nichola on January 1, 2019. We also bid farewell to the Rev’d Barrett Glasgow who will transfer back to her home district – Jamaica at the start of the new Connexional year on September 1, 2019. We express our thanks and appreciation to the Rev’d Barrett Glasgow and her husband for their service to the Leeward Islands District over these past 10 years.
STATE OF THE WORK
Faith and Order
Our Connexional Conference has reaffirmed its position on the issues of Baptism, Common-law-Unions and Forgiveness and has resent position papers for our final review and comments before they are ratified. Congregations are encouraged to join the conversation as we seek to educate our members on these issues. The Position Paper on Episcopacy was adopted and sent to us for acceptance as the Church’s position on this issue.
Mission and Evangelism
The District rejoices and celebrates God’s faithfulness in enabling the Church for Mission. In spite of the many challenges encountered, some as a result of the Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Circuits pursued the mission of God with zeal and commitment. We note and celebrate the work of the Church in ministering to those who are vulnerable, challenged and in need of care. We note and commend the witness of the Church to those who are incarcerated and, in expressions of God’s grace. We are mindful that there is much to be done, and there is a sense of urgency with which it must be done. Let us work together, clergy and laity, as we seek to fulfill God’s mission in touching lives for the Kingdom of God with commitment and passion, all for the glory of God!
During the School Year 2017-2018, several of the school buildings were devastated by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Despite these challenges, we continue to aspire and provide children and youth with a high-quality education with the aim of developing their critical thinking skills, moral behaviour, spiritual growth, and physical well-being.
Sixteen months after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 the Circuits impacted by their fury are still in the process of recovery. Even as stewards busy themselves in renovating and rebuilding, some of our congregations continue to meet for worship in halls and borrowed premises. The lives of our presbyters and their families, where manses were destroyed, are still upended as they continue to fulfil their call to serve.
At last year’s Conference, the committee agreed that the Circuits impacted by the Hurricanes should be given latitude in deciding on the restoration of their properties and therefore, should not be hampered by the need to seek the approval of the Conference before work is begun. In this new reality, the Resources and Development officers meeting at District Council in Aruba concentrated mainly on reviewing the progress of reconstruction in the District. Several properties have already been rehabilitated and are back in service while others are nearing completion. We note that Circuits have taken the opportunity to reorder priorities and expand and improve on the capacity and capability of the chapels and halls.
The response of the Circuits to these storms was a demonstration of ‘Stewardship in Action’. We have to commend all of our stewards in the various Circuits for rising to the occasion as they work to restore and rebuild our damaged buildings. We salute the members and friends who continue to raise funds and give sacrificially towards the rebuilding projects. We also wish to thank those members in Circuits who opened their homes, in the aftermath of the storms, to accommodate presbyters where manses were destroyed. We can only conclude ‘well done true and faithful servants’.
Together we can affirm that God our Father is faithful and; new every morning have we experienced God’s love, mercy, grace and favor towards us. Christ our Redeemer continues to call us to a closer walk with Him and to a deeper commitment to service. We are eternally grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit, our guide, guard, comforter and friend. Empowered by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, may we pursue that abundant life that Christ came to bring and, commit ourselves to fuller service. May God grant you grace to serve the present age to fulfill your Mission, thereby advancing the Kingdom of God.
In Christ’s Service,
Bishop, The Reverend Charles A. Seaton Rev’d Dr. Joan Delsol Meade
District President District Secretary