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Honouring three special women at Grace Church

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Women from all over the Island packed Grace Methodist Church on the North Shore, Pembroke, Sunday, participating in the Tenth Annual One Hundred Women in White (WIW) Service. Spirited singing and preaching highlighted the service that had some poignant features, such as the honouring of three women, rather than two at each of the previous years, for extraordinary service to the church, and community.

The nominal couple of honorees were Mrs Shayna E Duncan and Mrs Esther Bean. The third, and almost impromptu emotional honoree, was former First Lady of Grace, Mrs Carolyn Walker.

Widowed just a fortnight ago, she was cited by her pastor “for stepping out on faith to fulfil the God-given vision of initiating the One Hundred Women in White.”

Also for the first time a special invitation was extended to Bermuda's Governor, George Fergusson, and his wife Margaret, to take part in the service.

Virtually next door neighbours of historic Grace Methodist, the Governor's mansion is on the hilltop overlooking the church. Mrs Fergusson read the Old Testament Scripture, Psalm 27.

The Governor spoke of how intriguing it was, passing the stately church almost on a daily basis, and more inspiring being able to personally congratulate the Women in White.

The recently installed pastor of Grace, Rev. D'Wain O Wales led the procession of dignitaries, elected officials and clergy into the church. His wife, First Lady Sis Deborah Wales was the afternoon's preacher. Her theme was “Women's Unwavering Faith in Christ has been our Antidote.”

Mrs Antionette Cannonier, wife of Premier Craig Cannonier, read the New Testament Scripture, Romans 8. The Minister of Health and Seniors, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin in her greeting from the pulpit, termed the 100 Women in White a ‘much anticipated event'.

Singled out as the 2013 Community Services Award Honoree was Mrs Duncan, the Director of Client Services for the Coalition for the Protection of Children. Her friend, Sis. Elaine Williams, formally presenting the Honoree, cited how Mrs Duncan is known for her practical and powerful mode of speaking, combining biblical skills, authentic presentation, and humorous wit.

She possessed a tenacious and sincere spirit, was born into a family of preachers, teachers and prophets, and continues her family legacy in a ministry of unorthodox domain.

Mrs Duncan had the distinction three years ago of being the WIW guest speaker. Her theme was ‘Christian Women Walking in Jesus Joy.'

Her formative years were spent in Miami, Florida. At age 13, she was stricken with Guillame Barre Syndrome, and was not expected to live, walk or talk again. She fought the odds and experienced full recovery.

An alumnus of Wingate University with degrees in Communications and Psychology, she is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and Sigma XI Omega Chapter, Bermuda. She shares a marital covenant with her ‘King Man, John Ellsworth Duncan, Ph.D.”

“Overcoming the life challenge of childlessness proves to be a daily walk; yet she and John believe that nurturing others is their life's calling. Hence, together, the Duncans are God-nurturers to many, and call Stanya Omika and Ajalon Kashae their daughters.

The Grace Church Services Award Honoree was Mrs Esther Catherine Bean. She is, among other things, co-chairperson of the 100 Women in White Service, and chairperson of the Grace Board of Trustees. Former First Lady Walker gasped, “AT Last!” when Esther rose to receive her citation.

She had been selected several times over the decade for the award, each time declining in favour of another sister she deemed more deserving. This time around, it was stated, she was not asked, but told. she was an honoree.

Esther “was in pigtails” when she first attended Grace Church. She was the daughter of Mark and Ismay Swan, both deceased. Her parents were “sticklers for education and Christian living.” Attendance at Grace Church and to Sunday School was a must for her, and her four brothers and four sisters.

In her response, Mrs Bean commented feelingly, how she, present day, was the only one of the Swan siblings actively involved in work at Grace. The included Brother, Rev. Dr. Charles Swan an emeritus pastor of Grace, heads a church in Canada. Bro, Dr. Beresford Swan died just over a month ago. He's the physician after whom the Diabetes Clinic at the KEMH Hospital is named. Also deceased is Bro. Dawson Swan, who was an educator.

A sketch on Honoree Esther's life was given by her daughter Monique. “Esther, who places a great emphasis on church and family life, resides in Southampton with her husband Dr. Gerard Bean. Daughters Michele and Monique are both Bermuda Government Scholars. Michele being a Certified Management Consultant and Dr Monique, following in her father's footsteps, is an Optometrist.

“Esther attended Central School, now Victor Scott School; Berkeley Institute; Ottawa Teachers College in Canada, obtaining her formal teaching qualifications. Upon her marriage in Canada to Dr. Bean, she returned home, to teach at various schools including Victor Scott and Harrington Sound. Simultaneously, being the mother of two. she gained a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Maryland, followed by a Master of Science Degree with a concentration in counselling from Indiana University.

“Additionally she qualified in number of professional courses, including the Management of Psychological Crisis in Children at Harvard University Medical School and a course in Alcoholism and Drug Use at the University if Indiana. Those courses changed the focus of her attention and the direction of her entire professional career goals. She was appointed as the first Educational Therapist for hospitalised and homebound children in the public school system.

“In her leisure time and general community work, Esther has served in a number of charitable and voluntary organisations, including the Bermuda Shriners's Wives Club, Hibiscus Garden Club; the Adult Education Society and Parenting Effective Association.”

It was stressed that Esther counts herself as a person who does not waiver in her belief in God and she states her flexibility, adaptability and a warm, friendly, non-judgmental personality emulate the traits embraced in her favourite scripture verse, Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.”

Women in White: Mrs Shayna E Duncan, Mrs Esther Bean and Mrs Carolyn Walker were all honoured during a service at Grace Methodist Church.
Women in White: Mrs Shayna E Duncan, Mrs Esther Bean and Mrs Carolyn Walker were all honoured during a service at Grace Methodist Church.
Women in White: Mrs Shayna E Duncan, Mrs Esther Bean and Mrs Carolyn Walker were all honoured during a service at Grace Methodist Church.

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Published November 23, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm)

Honouring three special women at Grace Church

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