All Saints', New Amsterdam, Guyana celebrated 180 years

The All Saints' Anglican Church in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana celebrated its 180th Dedication Anniversary with a week of activities that commenced on Sunday, June 23, 2019.
 

The eventful week consisted of a March through the streets of New Amsterdam, Essay Writing Competition, the Ordination to the Diaconate of one of the Church's very own - Ezra Minty, Food Hamper distributions to senior citizens and shut-ins, the donation and presentation of a swing set to the Town of New Amsterdam, a Banquet and Youth Night. The week culminated with a High Mass on Sunday, June 30, 2019.

 

The Mass was officiated by Rt. Revd Charles Davidson, Bishop of Guyana with the reading of the Gospel done by Deacon Rev. Ezra Minty and sermon delivered by Rev. Monsel Alves. Among the Parishioners at the service were guests and special invitees including the Pastors of local churches, the Mayor of New Amsterdam, The Regional Executive Officer of Region 6 - East Berbice Corentyne, Mr. Samuel Hinds, Former Prime Minister and H.E. Mr. David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

All Saints' Anglican Church was consecrated on June 30, 1839. However, Anglicanism began in British Guiana many years before the consecration of All Saints’ and Christian work in Berbice was started by the Lutherans who built the first Church in New Amsterdam by 1803. Anglican work in the town started in 1811. In the early days, the Anglican members (known as the Church of England) used the old Lutheran Chapel. In 1818 there was an agreement to erect a Colony Church and in 1820 the Colony Church was opened for worship but this led to issues arising from as to who should use it and at what times. After an appeal was made by the Vestry to King George IV, a decision was made to erect on a convenient spot of land in town a separate church to be used exclusively. The land was identified and it was many years leading up to 1839 that the construction and physical development of the parish church took formation. The money came in quickly to work on the new church which started on a site purchased from Charles Hollingsworth in 1836.


All Saints' Anglican Church is one of the largest in the country and the original building and outlook have been preserved much by its members, although it has been repainted and portions rehabilitated and renovated over the 180 years. In 1841 the clock was established in the tower and with its four faces became a landmark as the tall spire with its weather vane attracted travelers crossing the Berbice River. In 1957 a large choir gallery and a new electronic Organ was installed, Shrines of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady and Stations of the Cross were also installed and on the 120th Dedication Festival on June 30, 1959, eight new statutes were dedicated. Electronic bells were also installed in the tower with strict instructions to the suppliers that they must be heard in every section in the Town. Another outstanding feature of the Church is the unique round stone tomb of Christ with a life-sized statue of Jesus lying in the tomb - the sepulchre - one of the only of its kind in the Caribbean.

All Saints’ has seen numerous Parish priests serving, among the many - Fathers: Martin Heal, A.L. Luker - who wrote the words for the National Anthem, Derek Goodrich, Kenneth Livesey, Sydney Thomas, George Spencer, Randolph Reynolds, Rory Honeyghan, Garfield Devellier and more recently John Rodrigues, Andrew Hoyte and presently Raymon Cummings.

The President in his address to the congregation at the Dedication Anniversary Service described All Saints' Anglican Church as "an emblem of multiculturalism" and the church is home to vibrant individuals and groups including the Mothers' Union, which first started in British Guiana at All Saints' 93 years ago, who has served the community and country modestly over the years.

All Saints' Anglican Church has been the worshipping site for thousands of Anglicans over the 180 years and is often referred to as the Cathedral of Berbice.

Contributed by: Melita Rambarran

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