Bishop: AME Conference ‘on target’
The 125th Session of the Bermuda Annual Conference of the AME Church ended on a high note Sunday at the Fairmont Southampton Princess Hotel with the Presiding Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard F. Norris fulsome in his praise for everyone in authority and positions of leadership for making what he termed a conference that was “spiritually on target” and highly successful.
Bishop Norris singled out Presiding Elder Betty L. Furbert Woolridge for completing “her year number one in grand style.” She is the first female to be Conference Presiding Elder in the whole of the century and a quarter of the denomination's history in the island. He also thanked God for the loyal laity and other conference leadership, citing particularly the music department, conference choir, liturgical dancers, and creative arts ministry.
He was applauded when he returned all pastors to their former charges for another year. Bishop Norris singled out former Presiding Elder Conway Simmons, as 'the sage of the Conference,' sending him back to Richard Allen in St. George's; and returned the Rev. Mrs. Ruth Van Lowe Smith to St. John's AME in Bailey's Bay 'the Mother Church' in Bermuda.
Bishop Norris personally presented $1,000 cheque to Rev. Dr. Lynel Guyton towards the cost of his beautifully renovated St. Paul AME Church, Hamilton which is deemed to be the cathedral of African Methodism in Bermuda. Dedication of the renovations was one the pre-conference events engaging the bishop and his wife Mother Mary A. Morris during the momentous week.
A major highlight of the closing on Sunday was unanimous adoption of a Report on Special Resolutions that took note of the effects on Bermuda of the global economic recessionary crisis and how it has impacted the state of the local economy resulting in businesses downsizing, layoffs, redundancies and closures leaving more people seeking jobs in order to support their families.
The rapid increase in violent crimes specifically that of firearms and antisocial behavior was another matter of great concern to the Conference. The violence not only hurts the persons directly involved, but the wider society, “fragmenting families that did not have the benefits of the village that raises its children”.
Taking note that “sexual orientation is anticipated to once again become a topic of debate in the House of Assembly, the Conferenced affirmed “the God-given worth of every person while remaining totally opposed to any changes of legislation, forms of entertainment and activity (including substance, sexual and spousal abuse) that further undermines the traditional family structure and eventually Bermuda society as a whole.”
“The AME Church commits to focus on methods of ministry and missions that are relevant to the needs of our neighbours and community. It was resolved that the Church commits to partner with Government and other community organizations to help where ever the Church can.”
The Resolutions Committee comprised Rev. Lorne Bean, Rev. C. Maureen Clemendour, Sis. Donna-Lee Chandler, Sis. Valerie Smith and Sis. Elizabeth Smith.