The official Golden Jubilee celebrations for Barbados in the United Kingdom ended on a high note with a Service of Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 26, at Southwark Cathedral.
Joy filled the church as over 600 members of the Bajan community came together to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed on their island nation.
The high point of the service was a sermon delivered by the Right Reverend Dr Wilfred Wood, KA, retired Bishop of Croydon, which is a part of the Diocese of Southwark.
Significantly, in December 1966, then a young curate, Wood had also delivered the sermon at the inaugural thanksgiving service for Barbados held at Westminster Abbey at which the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow was in attendance.
In his 2016 address, Bishop Wood noted that 50 years ago when he delivered that sermon, he had stated that “it is providential that within a month of our celebrating the birth of our infant nation Barbados, we would be celebrating the birth of the Infant Lord Jesus. It was providential because our nation’s life should be patterned on the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the same purpose namely to serve God by serving the world.”
The retired Bishop of Croydon reiterated his 1966 exhortation:
“First, in international affairs, Barbados, though small, should strive to win a reputation for decisions made on principle rather than from expediency or in response to pressure; secondly, we should not begrudge the world community (of) the services of the best and noblest of our sons and daughters. Wherever there is a need, and a Barbadian qualified to meet it, the resolve should be to go and serve;
“Thirdly, in any emerging nation, it is not enough to change the colour of the face of privilege. Authority must be harnessed to responsibility, pride and industry must take precedence over political alignment, and morality must be seen to triumph over self-interest and the acquisitive instinct. In every facet of life, private as well as public, the struggle to make actual the ideals of truth, justice and human worth, must know no relaxation.”
High Commissioner for Barbados, Guy Hewitt, delivered a message from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to the Barbadian community, using the opportunity to thank the Diocese of Southwark for partnering with Barbados and to present Bishop Wood with his Golden Jubilee Award for outstanding service in the UK.
In 2000, Barbados made Bishop Wood a Knight of St Andrew and in 2004, he was listed second only to Mary Seacole as one of 100 Great Black Britons.
The Service was led by Bishop Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, and was coordinated by Norma Parris and Barbados’ senior cleric in the UK, Reverend Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett. Five other Barbadian priests also took part including Reverend Canon David Tudor and Reverend Beverley Hunt.
Musical tributes were offered by the Barbados Overseas Nurses Association choir, the Mike King Choir and the Barbados Cultural Organisation Folk Chorale.
The Official 2016 Events in the UK also included the Birthday Banquet at Lords in honour of the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, the Diplomatic Reception at Lancaster House, the Commemoration of the Life of Sir James Cameron Tudor at Oxford University, the renaming of the High Commission chancery as ‘Barbados House’, and the Independence Gala at the Savoy Hotel.