Former St Paul pastor to take leading role in Biden’s inauguration
A former Bermuda pastor who is to play a major role at week’s US presidential inauguration said the island played a key part in shaping his career.
The Reverend Silvester Beaman, who served at St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hamilton for about seven years, will deliver the benediction at next Wednesday’s event.
Dr Beaman became friends with President-elect Joe Biden after he left the island and took up a new post in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1993.
Dr Beaman said: “He called me up one Sunday night on my cell phone and said, are you available to pronounce the benediction?
“President Biden called and asked if I am available. If I wasn’t, I would have changed everything to be able to deliver that benediction.
“I was immediately humbled, surprised.”
Dr Beaman added that he supported Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “from the very beginning”.
He added: “I knew his temperament, his experience, his commitment to family, to his faith.”
Dr Beaman said: “I felt that he would be right for this time.
“Our nation is divided over social justice issues, we are divided over race, religion, sexual persuasions.
“We are divided and we need someone who can come in and bring the nation together because of this division and coronavirus is part of that.”
He added that his time in Bermuda, where he is still a regular visitor, had helped prepare him for dealing with leading figures.
Dr Beaman said: “Pastoring at St Paul was significant for me because when I arrived there I was 26 years old, the youngest to ever pastor that church.”
He added: “Because of the stature of St Paul and the role that St Paul plays in the community and the island, I knew how to deal with leadership and political leadership.”
Dr Beaman, who came to Bermuda with his wife Renee, said that he was friends with Sir John Swan, then the United Bermuda Party Premier, Frederick Wade, then the Progressive Labour Party leader, and Ottiwell Simmons, a veteran union leader and then an MP.
He added: “I was able to move, being part of all of those communities, at the same time maintaining my integrity regarding my stance on civil rights, equality and working class people.”
Dr Beaman said that Bethel AME Church in Wilmington played a similar community role as St Paul did in Bermuda.
He became friends with Mr Biden when the politician was a member of the US Senate.
Dr Beaman, whose daughters Asaiah and Kori were born in Bermuda, said: “Over the years, he has been a bit of a mentor, as well as I have been a bit of a spiritual adviser for him.
“I campaigned with him in 2008 when he ran for president, of course he dropped off and later on became the vice-president.”
Dr Beaman was invited to attend both of former president Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremonies as a friend of the Biden family.
He and his family were also special guests at a private swearing-in event for Mr Biden, whose home town is Wilmington, as the US vice-president in 2013.
But this is the first time he will participate in the ceremony.
Dr Beaman said his preparation for next week’s address would be the same as usual – despite an expected TV audience in the tens of millions.
He added: “It takes a lot of contemplation, retrospection, introspection, prayer and just simply trusting God to give me the right words, like I do every sermon.”
Dr Beaman said that, despite the chaos when rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week, he was “going in hopeful – hopeful that the nation can heal”.
He added: “I believe that the great divider has been the president number 45, which is Donald Trump.
“On November 3, if he would have followed suit with all presidents prior to him – acknowledge his defeat, congratulated the newly-elected president and started working on peaceful transition of power … instead of doing that he radicalised his followers by telling them the election was stolen.”
Dr Beaman said: “President Biden’s task will be to try to heal the nation.”
The pastor, whose last visit to Bermuda was in February last year, said he looked forward to returning to the island when the travel risk from the Covid-19 pandemic receded.
He added: “I usually come to Bermuda twice or three times a year.”