Most Barbadians know what the Anglican Church has done over the years in the fields of education and social service.
Unfortunately, our achievements in more recent times have been a too well kept secret. Perhaps we have followed too closely the Biblical exhortation of not letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing and tacitly agreeing to keep our good works under the cloak of secrecy or even perhaps discretion. I have recently undertaken the task of taking a survey of just a few of the things some of our parishes are doing and thought that I would share these with the wider public for the sake of education and information.
From St. Lucy to St. Phillip our parishes and congregations meet the needs of those who live in the surrounding communities and beyond. Their own members and whosoever would ask and can be accommodated.
Several of our churches offer daily breakfast feeding programmes, some in association with other churches such as St. Ambrose who hosts over 100 children daily in association with the River Road New Testament Church of God, Bethel Methodist and the St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church.
Christ the King and the St. Matthew Churches also offer similar opportunities for those in need.
The All Saints Church contributes to the full payment of school meals for the entire school year for eight needy children. Another eight children graduating from the Primary School are given grants to pay for their text books and an identified family in need is granted $600.00 to assist with back-to-school expenses.
The St. Matthias Church has established a specified Community Outreach Fund and for the 2013/14 year three deserving students from the Graydon Sealy Secondary School have been given grants in excess of $1,000 each. Two youths from the community have received funds to continue their education at the University of the West Indies and the PomMarine Institute. In addition, two young entrepreneurs have been given “start-up” financial assistance.
The St. Augustine Church Award is given to a Class 4 student of the Cuthbert Moore Primary. This is not an academic award but is for the student who best demonstrates commitment to school and community in deportment, attendance and extra-curricular activities.
At the All Souls Church an identified person is supported through a three-year scholarship programme and several community families benefit through gifts and grants for academic purposes.
In addition to all of this, several of our parishes have regular collections of groceries given or sponsored by members. Hampers are distributed or those in need come to the church and make their own choices. Medical bills are paid and assistance given with utility payments.
Of course our churches continue to offer their premises to the wider Barbadian community. Opportunities are offered on our own initiatives and sometimes in partnership with government agencies and non-governmental agencies, for personal enrichment and education. Our facilities are often loaned and sometimes rented at nominal costs for private and public events
We have not yet mentioned the Day Care Centres for the young at St. Peter and the elderly at St. Barnabas. Some of our churches, in association with the National Assistance Board, host weekly craft and physical activity classes for senior citizens.
Space simply does not permit us to list all of the events and engagements which the Anglican Churches across the island are engaged in. All this in addition to our primary focus of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified.
In all the above we are reminded of the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi; “Preach the Gospel often and when necessary use words.” We in the Anglican Church may not have the answers to all the problems besetting our world and our communities at this time, but we are committed to lighting a candle in the darkness where we are and spreading the message of our Lord and Saviour in Word and in Deed.