A Collective Congregational Effort
The fire divine their steps that led
Still goeth bright before us
The heavenly shield around them spread
Is still high holden O’er us
The grace those sinners that subdued
The strength those weaklings that renewed
Doth vanquish doth restore us.
It was said that the Parham congregation started with a membership of 12 persons. This could be compared with the calling of the 12 disciples of Jesus. We know that Methodist work existed in Parham as early as 1763 for in that year Francis Gilbert makes reference to preaching in Parham as part of the 1763 year long crusade that he conducted.
The first Methodist chapel that was built in Parham was destroyed by fire in 1802 and all the church records were destroyed. The present chapel was rebuilt in 1809. In speaking about the building at Parham, Lanaghan gives this description: “Besides the Episcopal church, Parham boasts a very neat little chapel belonging to the Wesleyans, with a good stone mission house and a school room adjoining.”
It should be noted that about that time Parham was the city. Lanaghan in speaking about Parham, makes the comment that “Parham takes its name from the title of Lord William Willoughby of Parham. In 1697, after the decease of Christopher Codrington, Esq., (the elder), Parham appears to have been the residence of the lieutenant-governor, in preference to St John’s.”
In 1824 the Rev Thomas and Mrs. Dorothy Jones came out of England to live in Antigua. They were stationed at Parham. While Rev. Jones did his pastoral duties, Mrs. Jones took it upon herself to teach the slaves. In 1826 while Rev. and Mrs. Jones along with other Missionaries were returning from St. Kitts (by sea), the boat, the Maria Mail Boat sank one mile off Antigua on Sandy Island. Mrs Jones was the only surviving passenger of this tragedy.
It was after the fatal tragedy in 1826 that Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thwaites would walk from their home in Willoughby Bay to Parham to carry on school until the tragic earthquake in 1843 that destroyed their house. They then moved to Parham.
The membership started to grow and as the years passed by the entire Methodist community expanded. It became necessary to have a fourth Minister to assist with the task. The Synod of 1962 agreed that renovations be done at Parham and an upstairs building should be erected on the hall to house the fourth Minister. In 1964 the Manse was dedicated and the Rev. John R. Jennings was the first to be appointed as the fourth minister.
Parham has a present membership of 132: 50 males and 82 females. Worship service is at 9:00am every Lord’s Day. Prayer Meeting and Bible Study provide another opportunity for bonding and fellowship and meet on Tuesdays. The Senior Choir faithfully supports worship from week to week. There is an active Youth Fellowship whose President is Verlene Smith and Church School whose Superintendent is Paulette Isaac, who also coordinates women’s work. Eugenie Joseph is the Cradle Roll Secretary. Dayton and Sharlene Samuel are officers of the Boys’ Brigade.
The present pastor is the Reverend Dr Novelle C Josiah. He is ably assisted by Congregational Stewards: Sharlene Samuel, Paulette Isaac and Corey Hector; Property Stewards: Dayton Samuel and Ezzard Weston and Care Fund Stewards: Elaine Ferrance and Ann Bryan. The Standing Committees are led by: Paulette Isaac (Mission and Evangelism), Corey Hector (Organization and Education) and Sharlene Samuel (Resources and Development). Irena Frontin and Verlene Smith serve as secretaries for the Congregational Council and Pastoral Council respectively.
We are grateful for the service of our local preachers: Ezzard Weston and Sharlene Samuel; our Class Leaders and our organist Llewellyn Smith. Countless number of persons gave and continues to give dedicated service to the life and witness of the congregation, and for this we give thanks to God.