The theme we have adopted (or 2003. “Submitting to Christ in Service clearly indicates our response to rite love of God. to the salvivic acts of God, and to the redemptive acts of God. In response to what God through Jesus Christ has, is and will do, we are “submitting to Christ in Service’.
With this in mind, I share three truths, which the passage John 13:13-17 reveals to us concerning this theme. In talking about submitting we are outlining a goal to which we are striving, it is a goal of total surrender to God. Further, in using the participle form of the verb, “submitting" we are saying that this action is something we are doing and will continue to do.
Truth 1. Submitting to Christ in Service is our response to the cleansing act of God in our lives. Notice that in verse 12, it is right after Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, that he questions them, “Do you understand what I have done?” No matter how we take the washing of the feet or the need for some to be fully wasted, and others just a part, we cannot deny the cleansing which this action on the part of Jesus conveys. God takes the initiative and cleanses us, in order for us to respond. If we consider the cultural context of these words, persons would have walked as the main source of transportation, thereby getting dust not only on the feet but also on them in general. When they stopped by a host or friend, they would not only get food and drink for them and the animals but also water to freshen up with. This would help to make you fully refreshed so you can press on with the journey. As we go through the valleys and wilderness experiences of life, we may collect dust on our feet, but Jesus is willing to wash us, to refresh us so we can go on.
Truth 2. Our response is one of service. “You should also wash one another’s feet” (vs. 14). Being a Christian is not just about looking good, being blessed, talking the talk, saying ‘Amen’ and Hallelujah. It is not about self-gratification but about self-giving, since that was the example set for us, giving of ourselves to others as Jesus gave of himself to us, and for us. Too many of us are acting as sponges, soaking up everything. Worship for us is about getting, all about satisfying personal needs and desires. Yet can we allow the words of the songwriter. “If I can help somebody along the way then my living would not be in vain” to be our words too? For life ceases to be life if we can’t make a contribution to the reality that we are in. To serve is to realize our purpose, for if we look in the New Testament at the words which characterize and describe believers of Christ, we see: salt, light and witness, all of which reach their highest fulfillment in the contribution made to others and things of which they are a part. Salt seasons; light provides guidance and enable others to see; a witness tells for the benefit of others.
Truth 3. Our response to service comes only after we have submitted to Christ. We must totally yield ourselves to Christ. When we do this, we also adopt the attitude that Jesus Christ had (Phil 2:5-11), which is the attitude of humility. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, and notice the words said to them, “He who is sent is not greater than he who sent him.” Does this not correspond with Paul’s words, “He did not consider equality with God something to be exploited but humbled himself”? If we follow this pattern then, there is no task, no work of God that is too small or low for any of us to do. We are not too big or too high in authority to serve, for our calling as Christians is a call to serve. Still the type of service, while characterized by humility, must not be selective or fake. Look at the passage, vs. 13. “You call me Teacher and Lord and rightly so,” then the discussion proceeds to look at the practical application of such a statement, in other words, there needs to be consistency between what we say and what we do. Any affirmation of Jesus as our Lord must be met with our living out that testimony, thereby being servants.
Submitting to Christ in service is a call for us to present ourselves to God daily as a living Sacrifice. We say to God, God use us in any way, however you can, for we are available.
The PEC met in St. Kitts for its first PEC meeting for the year 2003 during the period January 16-20. The annual Superintendents’ Conference followed the PEC meeting and was held on January 21 and 22, 2003. The next meeting of PEC is scheduled for Barbados in April. The Christian Educators’ Conference is scheduled for April in Tobago. Please bear these meetings in your prayers.
MCRC Meeting Concluded
The Moravian Church - Eastern West Indies Province hosted a meeting of the Chairmen / Presidents of the various Moravian Provinces in the Caribbean region. This meeting, called the Moravian Caribbean Regional Conference convened at the Moravian Provincial Headquarters at Cashew Hill, in Antigua. Among matters for discussion were:
The future of the Moravian Church in the Caribbean;
Areas of co-operation;
Responding to the change in contemporary society;
Mission and Evangelism within the Moravian Church in the Caribbean;
Provinces represented were: Jamaica, Suriname, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guyana, Costa Rica and host Province, Eastern West Indies. The EWI Province was represented by Chairman, Rev. Roslyn Hamblin, and Mission representative, Rev. Errol Connor. The meeting concluded on Friday, January 31, 2003.
Two statements coming out of the MCRC meeting are to be found below. The statements are in response to issues raised at Unity Synod.
Lay Pastors Recognised
The Moravian Church - Antigua Conference honoured two of its Lay Pastors, Bro. Lindberg Dowe and Bro. Joseph Charles for outstanding service to the Conference. The service was held at the Spring Gardens Moravian Church on January 19, 2003.
Theological Education Sunday
As Theological Education Sunday is observed this year we urge you pray for our Theological students and to give generously to the work of ongoing theological training. There are currently 5 students in training at UTCWI at a cost of US$ 8,000.00 per student per year. The five students currently in training are:
Sis. Bonnie Williams-A final year student for Pastoral Ministry, with the hope to specialise in Counselling. She is from the Urlings congregation in Antigua.
Bro. Kirk Roger Barker-A second year student for Pastoral Ministry, from the St. Philip Fellowship in Barbados. He is the grandson of a Moravian Minister (deceased).
Bro. Adrian Lewis-A second year student for Pastoral Ministry from the Trinidad Conference. He is from the Rose Hill congregation and has represented his Conference at Synod as Youth Delegate.
Sis. Alicia Ross-A second year student for Pastoral Ministry, from the Trinidad Conference. She is from the Rose Hill congregation.
Bro. Devon Mannix-A second year student for Pastoral Ministry, with the hope to specialise in Counselling. He is from the Gracebay congregation in Antigua.
Over the years persons have been trained and have entered into specialised ministries of the church. These have been: Christian Education, Music, Counselling, Development. Persons in Pastoral Ministry have also further enhanced their studies in specific areas and have become resource persons in such areas as Evangelism, Church Planting, Counselling. The church continues to need men and women to fulfil the ministry of Christ. We therefore need to train such persons as God would call into His ministry.
Hence we encourage you to give lovingly for the continuing mission of Theological Education.
Unity Prayer Watch
The EWI Province will participate in the Unity Prayer Watch from midday on March31 to mid-day on April 15. The two extra half-days were agreed upon by the Caribbean Provinces at the recent Moravian Caribbean Regional Conference in order to cover for time differences across the Unity. The matter will be taken up with the Unity Board. The schedule for the Province is therefore as follows:
March 31, 12:01 pm to April 04, 12:00 mid night – Antigua Conference
April 05, 12:01 am to April 07, 12:00 mid night – Barbados Conference
April 08, 12:01 am to April 08, 12:00 mid night - St. Kitts Conference
April 09, 12:01 am to April 10, 12:00 mid day – Tobago Conference
April 10, 12:01 pm to April 11, 12:00 mid day - Trinidad Conference
April 11, 12:01 pm to April 14, 12:00 mid night – USVI Conference
Special prayer concerns are:
The Caribbean Nations;
The Nicaragua and Honduras Provinces and their relations with each other;
The conflict within the Czech Province;
The Tobago Conference as they mourn the tragic death of their secretary to the Island Conference and the Executive Board;
Other matters relating to the particular Conference and nation.
Unity Offering 2003
The 2003 Unity Offering will be collected this year for the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in Tanzania. This is the first Moravian mission work in Tanzania, established in August 1891. The work has grown extensively during its first’ hundred years and now has approximately 150 congregations and outstations, and approximately 150 pastors. Total membership is over 75,000. There is currently need for a facility to store the records of this first Moravian mission to Tanzania. The 2003 Unity Offering has been designated for the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in Tanzania, to be allocated towards the building of a home for their historical records. The construction of an Archives building will soon be started and the Unity Offering will assist in this project.
We give God thanks for his guidance in the midst of the prevailing unstable situation around the Star Mountain centre and around Palestine in general. There is still no peace, and our centre is affected.
A team from the Mission Association of the Moravian Church in Germany (HMH) paid a visit to Star Mountain from October 26 to November 02, 2002. Currently the boarding section of the Star Mountain is closed. However, staff continues to serve the day students.
The Centre has not been able to find a new Assistant Director since Sophie Koerte left in June. The search for someone to fill this post is yet on-going. The most suitable person would be one wit6out a spouse and children as this would make the work easier for him/her. Responsibilities would include fundraising projects, project analysis and public relations. Please write to Bro. Frieder Vollprecht if you know of anyone who is interested in such a position.
Unity Synod Report
(cont’d from the last edition)
At Unity Synod 2002 two major issues affecting the life of our Church were addressed. These two issues are Homosexuality and the Charismatic Movement.
In relation to Homosexuality, the Synod of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America had considered the matter and had passed a resolution on the same. However, the matter was raised at Unity Synod since many members of the Northern Province had concerns in relation to the resolution. The response of Unity Synod on the matter was as follows:
Unity Synod, recognised “that the Church is not of one mind on the issue of homosexuality at this time, and that honest differences of opinion exist within the Unity based upon our varied understanding of the Scriptures
The Unity Synod therefore urged Provinces towards further in-depth examination of the subject of homosexuality and the Church.
The Unity Synod placed a moratorium on additional changes in the matter by the Provinces, until the in-depth examination is completed.
The Standing Committee on Theology was mandated to study / consider all official documents and reports on homosexuality submitted to Unity Synod and develop discussion material that will guide the provinces.
Unity Synod called on “all Moravians to be ministers of the grace, truth, forgiveness, mercy, and love of God to homosexuals even as we are called so to minister to all people”.
In relation to the Charismatic Movement, two main issues were addressed, viz, conflict within the Czech Province, and tension between the Nicaragua and Honduras Provinces.
Both groups of Moravians within the Czech Republic were represented at Unity Synod, by special arrangement of the Unity Board. The response of Unity Synod included the following:
Unity Synod recognised that “it is the intention and commitment of Moravians of the Czech Republic to seek, as far as possible, reconciliation among those who have experienced division within the Body of Christ”.
Unity Synod agreed that “the Theological Study Committee of the Unitas Fratrum . . . explore the theological issues relevant to the Unity worldwide, especially the charismatic movement and other relevant theological issues. Such discussions will include an examination of the Ground of the Unity”.
The rise of the charismatic movement in both the Honduras and Nicaragua Provinces has resulted in evidence of persons taking sides and consequent tensions within each Province and between the two Provinces. The response of the Unity Synod was as follows:
Unity Synod resolved “that the Unity Board form and send a mediating team to the Moravians in Honduras and Nicaragua, and through a process of conflict resolution, respecting the autonomy of each recognized Province, bring about restoration of unity”.
Unity Synod asked that each Province instruct its pastors and bishops not to intervene in the other Province.
Unity Board subsequently appointed a mediating team as follows:
Bishop John Wilson
Bishop Kingsley Lewis
Sis. Margarete Wilde
Rev. Stanley Clarke
Statements coming out of the MCRC meeting held in Antigua, January 25-31, 2003.
Response to Homosexuality
We acknowledge that homosexuality is a social phenomenon and a spiritual concern which, as a Church, we must confront as a matter of urgency.
We acknowledge that homosexuality, fornication, drunkenness, gambling, dishonesty and all other sins of human existence are inconsistent with Scripture and contrary to the will of God. We further acknowledge that every human being though sinful is created in the image of God and is the object of God’s grace and salvation.
We accept that our task is not a ministry of exclusion but a ministry of reconciliation - one in which we seek to bring all persons, whatever their race or creed or persuasion or sexual orientation within the benefits of redeeming grace through the transforming experience of faith in God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
We are therefore committed to a ministry to all who have or are struggling with homosexual/lesbian orientation or tendencies. Constrained by the love of Christ, we will embrace them in hope, and encourage them in faith.
Moreover, we will further investigate the issue of human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular, being mindful of the genetic and environmental factors relative to the same. With due diligence and study we will seek to strengthen home and family life and educate the membership of hope and behavioural change consistent with the Scriptures - the rule of our faith.
We would be careful to preserve the integrity of the Gospel and the witness of the Church in service of Christ and our communities.
Mission and Purpose of the Church — (Response to the Charismatic Movement)”
With respect to the Charismatic Movement, we affirm the motto of the Moravian Church which states:
In essentials — Unity;
In non-essentials —Liberty;
In all things — Love / Charity.
The essentials give room for the belief, acceptance and practice of the diversity and richness of the Church and have in common the goal which the Lord of the Church has commissioned. These essentials would include:-
* Personal relationship with God through Christ.
Serving the neighbour.
Doing Mission to the World (Great Commission).
Practice of the Sacraments.
Redemption, reconciliation and the hope of eternal life. In this regard and based on Scripture ( lCor.12:4-6; Rom.12:3-13; Eph 4:1-16; John 17:21) it is clear that:
* Even though we may differ in theological commentary, we are united in the Spirit.
Even though we may differ in tradition and culture, we should be in harmony in evangelism.
Even though we may differ in Baptism and Holy Communion, we should proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus till He comes.
Even though we may differ in worship styles due to times and circumstances, we should be in common prayer and intercessions.
The Church has to present Jesus Christ to the world as the Lord and Giver of life, and as the centre of attention so that people can be saved. This is essential for Salvation. (1 Cor. 3:11; John 14:6; John 15:1-8). Therefore we must train and educate our people about the purpose and the mission of the Church.
At the level of non-essentials (e.g. the way of worship, the rhythm of the songs, etc.) Leaders must be sensitive to the needs and preferences of their congregations and wider community.
* Footnote: The Review on Essentials, by Rt. Rev. Isaac Nicodemo.
At the end of each year, a watchword is drawn in Herrnhut for each Province. The Texts drawn for our Province for this year are those for October 29:
He has gained renown by His wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful. Psalm 111:4
Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19.
On December 13, 2002 the Province was 270 years old. We marked this milestone by launching the Restructuring and Capital Development Fund. This appeal is geared towards helping the Province achieve self-sufficiency.
We encourage you to join the 70th Anniversary celebrations by giving $5.00 dollars per month. The Province is counting on you. Above all, God is counting on you. Pledge forms are available from your Pastor or Superintendent.
BIRTHDAYS / ANNIVERSARIES
Birthday Greetings for January
Birthday greetings for January are extended to:
Sis. Margaret John 4
Bro. Ludolph Browne 5
Rev. Glenvil Gregory 8
Sis. Sonia Spencer 11
Bro. George Ramsay 27
Rev. Ray Joseph 27
Birthday Greetings for February
Birthday greetings for February are extended to:
Rev. Dufferin Culpepper 1
Rev. Adlyn Binta Mgonela 3
Rev. Cortroy Jarvis 7
Sis. Shirley Joseph 8
Rev. Willard Prout 10
Sis. June McMillan 17
Rev. Errol Connor 21
Rev. Esther Moore-Roberts 24
Rev. Deslyn Belle-Watson 27
Anniversary greetings for February are extended to:
Rev. Ray & Mrs. Shirley Joseph 7
Bishop Kingsley & Mrs. Maureen Lewis 19
Rev. Rudolph & Mrs. Megan Gibbs 23
The Sharon congregation in Barbados celebrates its 235th birthday in February. The pastor is Rev. Ezra Parris and the congregation has a membership of 940.
The Spring Gardens congregation in Tobago celebrates its 152nd birthday in February. The pastor is Pastor Sean Roberts and the congregation has a membership of 287.
The Friedensfeld congregation celebrates its 202nd birthday in February. The pastor is Rev. Reuben Vessup and the congregation has a membership of 545.
We extend condolences to the following:
Bishop Neville Brown and Mrs. Ida Brown on the passing of her mother, Sis. Louisa Lyons. The funeral was held in Trinidad on December 2002.
Rev. Errol Connor on the passing of his aunt, in Anguilla.
Rev. Dion Christopher on the passing of his aunt in St. Thomas.
Rev. Eulencine Christopher on the passing of her aunt, Sis. Geneta Griffith, who died in the USA and was buried in St. Croix.
Bishop Neville Brown and family on the passing of his nephew, Oscar Francis, who was buried at the Potters Moravian Church on February 18, 2003.
The family of Sis. Evelyn James, secretary to the Executive Board of the Tobago Conference, who died following a tragic incident on February 19, 2003. The Funeral Service was held on Tuesday, February 26 at the Montgomery Moravian Church in Tobago. Sis. James was stabbed soon after arriving for work at the Montgomery Government School on Wednesday morning. The government has provided counselling for students and teachers. The Tobago community is in shock and the Tobago Conference is deeply grieved as they mourn the loss of a staunch and dynamic member. Represented at Sis. James’ funeral were the Trinidad Conference, the Antigua Conference, and the Virgin Islands Conference. The Chairman, along with PEC member Sis. Freida Noel, represented the Province. The Minister of Education of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Hazel Manning, and the Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, Mr. Orville London, were also in attendance. A total of 14 Moravian pastors officiated in the service. Sis. James was interred in the burial ground (God’s Acre) at Montgomery. Please bear these families and the Tobago Conference in prayer at this time.