Sunday January 11 was a very special day in the life of St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Sandy Point. A Pontifical Concelebrated Eucharist of Thanksgiving was held on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church and also in recognition of the 25th Anniversary of Catechist Benjamin Pinder.
Officiating was the Most Reverend Drexel W. Gomez, former Archbishop of the West Indies and 12th Bishop of The Bahamas along with Reverend Willish Johnson, Rector of the Parishes of St. John the Baptist, Marsh Harbour, and St. Martin’s Church, Sandy Point.
The church was full of people who had come from not only settlements in South Abaco but also from Marsh Harbour, Nassau and other family islands to join in the celebration with the members of St. Martin’s. The service was indeed a joyful one with the congregation showing their rejoicing in their rousing hymn singing.
The sermon was delivered by Bishop Gomez who stated that his two points of emphasis would be to give thanks for the Church of St. Martin and “to remember our brother Benjamin Pinder who has served the church so faithfully.”
He stated that, “The church, which is the House of God, is a place set apart for the worship of God and this entails three things:
“1. Holy worship. God is the centre and we must honour him.
“2. Holy Fellowship. We are a community of faith and must come together as a nation and leave divisions at the door of the church.
“3. Holy Witness. We must witness to Jesus by the quality of life we live, not just by our words.”
Bishop Gomez ended his sermon by saying that; “There is too much wickedness in this country and the country needs a stronger Christian witness.
As the service was drawing to a close a special time was set aside for honouring Catechist Pinder. Bishop Gomez thanked him for his service not only as a catechist in the church but also for his work in the wider community.
Mr. Pinder was actually licensed as a catechist on June 18, 1989 but had served in that role for many years whenever former catechist J. A. Pinder was unavailable.
“He is a man with old-fashioned values and a sense of dignity. Many communities have lost their anchor but Benji has given consistent witness, standing up for the old values and standards and not trying to shift with the time,” stated Bishop Gomez.
A letter to catechist Pinder from Bishop Laish Boyd, current Bishop of The Bahamas, was read by Bishop Drexel Gomez. In his letter Bishop Boyd sent heartiest congratulations on this milestone saying that; “He treasures the high esteem in which Mr. Pinder is held both in his church and community and he is an example for others as a public servant and a family man.” Bishop Boyd regretted that he was unable to be present owing to prior engagements.
Mrs. Brenell Higgs, President of the St. Martin’s Anglican Church Women, sang a solo to Catechist Pinder of the hymn ‘To God be the Glory’ for, she stated; “This is a phrase he uses all the time in his life.” Valeria Lightbourne and Ezra Cox presented a gift to Catechist Pinder on behalf of the ACW and ACM groups and a cheque was presented by Treasurer, Monica Adderley.
Rev Willish Johnson described Catechist Pinder as a humble man whom she loves, respects and admires for his commitment and dedication to God and she was grateful for how he handled the challenge of her arriving as the first female priest.
Following the service a reception was held in the church hall in honour of Catechist Pinder. During the dinner tributes were paid to this beloved and well-respected man by his daughter Constance Delancey, Priest Warden Estelle Pinder and elder of the Sandy Point community Naomi ‘Vergie’ Lightbourne.
Loving remarks were also made by the head table guests consisting of friends, members of local government and Administrator for South Abaco, Lavon Harris- Smith, who stated that she has always looked up to him because he has always been exemplary in his deportment. He served the district of South Abaco as Administrator with a firm hand but always remained humble and was well respected amongst his peers.
In his response Mr. Pinder stated that he never expected anything like this but he was very grateful to friends, family and church family who had made the event possible.