THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL PREACHERS IN THE METHODIST STORY
By Angella Joseph, President of the Local Preachers Fellowship
Preachers’ Retreat 2010
Our story has its genesis when Nathaniel Gilbert, under Wesley’s preaching was converted to Methodism, returned to Antigua in 1760 and began to preach to his slaves the message of salvation that he had heard from Wesley. And so the work of Local Preachers in Antigua began. When Gilbert died, women continued the work. This included, Bessie, Sophia Campbell and Mary Alley who were the first recorded local preachers. We dare not forget John Baxter, one of Wesley’s Local Preachers who came from England to work as a shipwright in Antigua. He preached at nights and on weekends. The work of Methodism was being carried out, to a large extend, by local men and women who gave voluntary service to the Church.
As we celebrate 250 years of Methodism, we salute Preachers – that band of committed and dedicated men and women who continue faithfully to “spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land and reform the nation.” Our preachers can be depended upon to conduct weekly worship services and share in the Living Faith Morning Devotions radio broadcast. The challenges are great and the task enormous. To all our preachers, the Methodist Church expresses its deepest appreciation for the work that you do.
On roll are: Nine (9) Fully Accredited Preachers: Walter Lawrence (1958 – Bethesda); Stephanie Archibald (1963 –Ebenezer); Ulric Matthews (1977 – Freetown); Llewellyn Smith (1986-Ebenezer); Ezzard Weston (1988-Parham); Angella Joseph (1990-Freemansville); Wendell Samuel (1996 – Freetown); Cicely King (1998 – Cassada Gardens); Hesketh Phillip (1998 – Gilbert Memorial).
Eleven (11) Preachers on Trial: Audrey Daley, Lenroy Skepple, Sharlene Samuel, Ethlyn Parker, Eusalyn Lewis, Larry Jackson, Boris Teague, Sherwin Parker, John Francis, Junie Ruddy and Marcel Glasgow; and the one (1) Preacher on Note: Charles Bellot.
We recall with gratitude some of our preachers who have served faithfully but have now died such as JRA McDonald, A McDonald, Sydney Joseph sr, Sydney Chambers, Robert Richards, Selvin O’Donohugh, Bro Drew, Bro Batt, Harold Smith, Thaddeus James, Thomas Dyer, Reuben Cooke, Leonard Benjamin, Joseph Hughes, Dennis Bowers and Albert Edwards.
We remember those peachers who are still alive but have migrated from Antigua or no longer in active service. We think of George Delfish, Robert Crogman, McChesney Emmanuel, Victor Emmanuel, Keithlyn Smith, Watson Joseph, Cedric Henry, Mr Spencer, Edward Dyer, Andrea Byer, Iothie Wyre and Lilita Seaton.
As part of its 2010 Preachers Week activities, the Preachers came together and launched a Preachers’ Fellowship. The main aim of this Fellowship is to provide mutual support and strengthen the bond and fellowship among our Local Preachers. Officers of this Fellowship are: President – Angella Joseph; Vice President – Marcel Glasgow; Secretary/Treasurer – Cicely King; and Public Relations Officer – Boris Teague. For a number of years the Preachers Meeting Secretary was Stephanie Archibald. She was succeeded by Junie Ruddy, who presently holds the position.
Today, the Church continues to depend heavily on the contribution of all our preachers. We appeal for more persons to join this worthwhile ministry. It is hoped that as we celebrate this milestone in the life of our Methodist Church, that God will raise up men and women zealous in telling the Good News and wise in winning people/souls for His Kingdom. Let us continue to give thanks to God for the faithful service of our local preachers. We pray that God will energize, revive and anoint this faithful group of preachers.