Last Thursday night, the Barbados District of the Wesleyan Holiness Church paid tribute to one of its most loyal sons, the late Ivan Mortimore Wickham, during the inaugural lecture in his name, at the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church. It was delivered Reverend Dr. Hamilton Taitt.
It was all part of year-long celebrations of the church’s 100th anniversary in Barbados, and today we reproduce PART 2 of an edited version of that presentation, which looked at Wickham’s like as a family man, community workers and church leader.
by Rev. Dr. Hamilton Taitt
Reverend I. M. Wickham had some admirable characteristics. He was a very intelligent person and was noted for his magnificent insight. Those of us who knew him would call him an undecorated professor.
I would seriously ask that the appropriate authorities write one of the Wesleyan colleges and ask that Rev. Wickham be awarded an honorary doctorate posthumously for the tremendous work he did in the Caribbean.
Because of the system which existed when Rev Wickham was a boy, he was only able to go to Standard Seven. But because of his brilliance, he was asked to do pupil teaching at St. Augustine in St. George. He subsequently, left teaching and went to learn tailoring with a Christian brother. It was during his apprenticeship as a tailor that he met Doreen Ione King, who later became his wife.
Cedric Wiltshire, after entertaining him, concluded that he was a very brilliant man. He told Cedric that before aging he did not have to look into a dictionary. Many of us should have emulated him.
He was also a unique polemicist. Rev. Wickham was a Pilgrim at heart; he loved the Word of God as interpreted by the Pilgrim Holiness Church. He believed strongly in holiness and in entire sanctification as a second definite work of Grace.
When the Pilgrim Holiness merged with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, it was proposed that the church be called The Wesleyan Church. Rev. Wickham argued for the retention of the word, “Holiness”. As a result the Caribbean and the United Kingdom were allowed to be called “The Wesleyan Holiness”. This name would also prevent conflict in the Caribbean.
Reverend Wickham was a man with magnificent ingenuity. Whatever the situation in which he found himself, he was seen as a man possessed with natural skills. He was skilled in handling difficult cases. He did not operate in fear. At times he would not speak directly, but be assured that he would come to the point.
There was a situation in which some friends of his were angry with him over a stand he took on a particular matter. He was advised not to visit the angry family, but he would not be deterred. He visited the family and skillfully regained their favor. He was a master at appeasing angry situations.
He was also a man with spiritual discernment — a quality needed today by many pastors and church leaders, especially when so many people claim to be apostles, prophets and evangelists; and when some claim to have messages from the Lord.
Reverend Wickham loved his congregations and protected them from those who would turn them away from the truth. Pastors were warned against using persons in their pulpits who would mislead the people
Rev. Wickham had an impressionable personality. He was firm on principle. He strongly advocated a holy life. He not only talked holiness, he lived it. His son, Edzil said: “He was true to his beliefs and to his God; never hypocritical.”
Reverend Goodman said that Reverend Wickham’s main emphases were the salvation of souls and holiness.
Dr. Frank Bailey, deceased, said that Rev. Wickham, along with others enriched his experience of holiness and his understanding of what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be led by Him. Those of us who knew Rev. Wickham have admired his stand on holiness and have tried to follow him as he followed Christ.
Our beloved leader has tried to exemplify and to emphasise highest love.
Rev. Wickham’s children described him as caring, compassionate and humble. Carrington Church loved him; he remained a member of Carrington until the day of his death. In expressing appreciation for his ministry at Carrington, one writer said that he appeared tough at first but when they got to know him, they found him to be very friendly. After giving the members a good scolding, he would ask “Do you still love me?” To this the congregation would respond positively. Generally he loved his parishioners and co-workers and they loved him.
As one faithful in practice, Rev. Wickham was time conscious. He made sure that he was on time for services and his appointments. He could cut the best sermon in consideration of the congregation. As a young man, I remember him preaching a sermon about Felix and the convenient season, I enjoyed that message and wished that he would go on preaching but he soon climaxed the message in interest of time.
He often advised pastors not to preach long at funerals and so create anxiety for the grieving family and the funeral director. The “super” practised what he preached.
Rev. Wickham was a trusted Christian. When you meet someone you can trust, you treasure such a person. Not only was Rev. Wickham true to his word, as his son said, but people who had to immigrate to England, USA and other parts of the world trusted him to look after their properties. Rev. Goodman said that one could share matters with him, because he was confidential. He also impressed upon young ministers under his supervision the importance of confidentiality, especially in the ministry.
Even people outside of the Wesleyan Holiness Church trusted Rev. I. M. Wickham.
He was also known for his influential performance. He was a man of sincerity who was recognised for his genuineness. His word was his bond. He would not say one thing and mean another. As Edzil his son said: “He was never hypocritical.” Members from his pastoral charges often spoke of his sincerity in dealing with them. Similarly, pastors and district workers all testify to his genuineness.
Even though he was genuine, he was also known for his candidness. He was not afraid to let you know how he felt about a particular matter, not even if you were his superior… You had to hear and understand how he felt about the matter. Just as candid as he was with members in the church, so was he with his family. Edzil, his son said that he would always talk with them before applying the strap: he had hoped he would skip the talk; it was more painful. Rev. I. M. Wickham was a great man, well respected by many.
He was a man of integrity. He displayed at home and abroad, honesty. Both his children and Rev. L. H. Goodman described him as a man of integrity. He was always very careful in dealing with church finances; he spent very carefully that which belonged to his Lord. He would rather give from his own pocket, than take from the church. He made sure that the books were okay for the district conference.
In his personal dealings with members or pastors he displayed honesty.
Rev. Irvine Mortimer Wickham was also known for his dependability. Any time he promised to do something for you, you could depend upon him to fulfill his promise. If for some reason he was unable to fulfill the promise he would call or have his secretary call. As stated before you can also depend on him to be on time. If for some reason he could not be on time he would call or have someone call. Lateness was not in his vocabulary.
One other aspect of Rev. Wickham’s life must be carefully examined – his spiritual conduct. He was a devoted shepherd.
As a true Shepherd he must be recognised as a solid preacher. He was recognised as one who towered among preachers.
Rev. I. M. Wickham was called a prince of preachers. One of his former members of Carrington who is now a minister, Rev. Louis Clarke said: “He preached as the oracles of God, and one could tell that his sermons were God breathed; they were bathed in prayer and went home to the hearts of his hearers. Many were our trips to the altar trying to find the experience about which our pastor was speaking.” Dr. A. Wingrove Taylor said that he was a moving preacher of the Gospel. Rev. Goodman called him a great preacher who researched the Word which he loved.
Rev. Wickham not only taught homiletics, but he practised it. He preached both expository and textual topical sermons. Who can forget messages such as “The Plumbline” and “Remove not the Ancient Landmarks”. His son, Edzil felt dad wanted him to be a preacher, but the Lord used him otherwise; he helped many people socially, both at university as a professor and practically in his daily communications.
Rev. I. M. Wickham was always thoughtful of people. In the City many members of the churches depended on public transportation to take them to church, and on Sundays buses did not travel as often as during the week. Rev. Wickham pastored
Carrington church 15 and a half years; he served as interim pastor at Kew and White Park, two other City churches for a number of years. In each church, he closed on time in order that members would not miss their transportation and as a result have to stand in the sun waiting for other means of transportation.
Preaching was his calling and he did an excellent job of it. He was a successful pastor. All of his charges spoke of him highly. He was very caring.
Rev. I. M. Wickham pastored at the young age of 23 in the following Pilgrim Holiness churches: Lodge Road, Sargeants and Maxwell. He did such an excellent job that the District Superintendent transferred him to Carrington, one of the largest churches on the district. He soon endeared himself to the members of the congregation, and ably attended to their needs. He made it a rule that he would visit homes more than the days of the month or equivalent. This was verified by his children. During 15 and a half years at Carrington the membership moved from 180 to 260, and the Sunday School reached the 600 mark.
When he was promoted to the office of superintendent, Carrington took sometime to get accustomed to his not being pastor.
Rev. Wickham was an excellent counselor … and was a very wise man. Many of us have learned from him. In his own way he told the young people about the birds and the bees. The youth as well as the seniors appreciated his wise counsel. Hundreds of people came for him to marry them, but he would first counsel them. Many marriages have lasted; some that he warned against getting married who still persisted have regretted not following his advice. Such talent which Rev. Wickham possessed, could not go unnoticed…
To be continued in tomorrow’s edition.