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A great day of rebirth for St Paul AME

A beautiful, fully refurbished, St Paul AME Church with its distinctive high steeple situated in the heart of Bermuda’s modernizing new capital city Hamilton, known to generations as the Cathedral of African Methodism in Bermuda was re-launched as “the flagship” of the denomination. A more fitting designation could hardly have been given the fully recreated sanctuary and surrounding complex including the Heritage Hall, with the impressive consecrating service taking place on Sunday in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the first to pose a threat to Bermuda during this 2011 season. Pastor Rev Dr Lanel D Guyton and Church Trustees in a welcoming message noted how a few days earlier President Obama ordered several navy ships to sea to ride out “Irene” as the killer storm was bearing down on the US Eastern seaboard subsequently wreaking damage in the billions of dollars. A member of the White House staff, when questioned about the President’s Order, explained “ships are built to be at sea in good times and bad, in fact the safest for a ship in a storm is at sea”. “The flagship of African Methodism that S. Paul is, is being relaunched, fully refurbished and consecrated for service. Our doors are open to welcome those seeking refuge from the storms of life. Our ship is safest when we are doing what we were designed to do, which is to worship God.” Pastor Guyton and Bermuda Conference Presiding Elder, Rev. Betty L. Furbert-Woolridge, exiting the Heritage Hall where the big congregation had gathered, led a procession to the sanctuary for the first service. En route, they planted a tree in an attractive Missionary Garden that has been created in the level square separating the two big buildings. An exuberant Executive Associate Minister, the Rev Judith Gardner, told worshippers taking up their positions in the choir loft, pews and balcony, the occasion was a “Spiritual Cup Match”, an outright victory, no more draws: from church to hall and back to church. Praise the Lord,” she said. Pastor Guyton for his first sermon took his text from Joshua 10:1-6. His theme was “Getting Past the Promises”. He said the transition had to be the second most exciting day in the 125-year history of St. Paul. It was a time to move forward in victory, “today is your day to walk in victory” and like Joshua, man’s conqueror, arise and go over for what God has given us; leave our old ways of doing things, cross over the Jordan River. “Today is a new day. We are no longer in Centennial Hall. We must walk past the promises into the blessings.” Presiding Elder Betty told the congregation her prayer was for St Paul to let its blessings overflow into the community. Elder Betty then extended condolences on behalf of the Bermuda Conference to Rev. Dr. Guyton, whose father, Presiding Elder M Lloyd Guyton of the New Brunswick AME Conference in New Jersey had died earlier in the week. His funeral took place on Tuesday of this week. At the conclusion of his nine minute sermon, Dr. Guyton left the pulpit, and accompanied by his wife, went directly to the airports for a flight to New Jersey.