Island’s first female bishop
Becoming a bishop was a calling made known to Roxanne Haynes nearly two decades ago.
This month it finally came to fruition as she became the first female bishop in Bermuda.
“I just want to give God thanks for fulfilling a prophetic word that was released over 17 years ago, concerning my elevation to bishopric,” Dr Haynes said.
“I want to give God the glory and the honour for doing such a mighty work in my life.
“It reminds me that whatever God has spoken about our lives, He will complete and fulfil it. I feel blessed and honoured that God has entrusted me with the mandate to serve in this sacred office.”
The mother of four has been faced with a handful of personal challenges in recent years including the death of her husband, Bishop Christopher Haynes, in June 2013.
Losing her long-time partner in ministry and best friend forced her to “deepen her resolve in Christ” in order to continue pastoring their church, Restoration Fellowship, without him.
“My husband and I were a team in ministry for over 37 years. It was definitely an adjustment not having him with me, but I knew the work of the Lord had to continue regardless of any circumstance or situation,” Dr Haynes said.
“Reflecting back on that period I can now see my husband's passing as a transition rather than a loss. The Word of the God says in 2 Corinthians 5:8: ‘To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.'
“My faith was greatly tested during that time. I had to learn I was capable of continuing the work without him and how to rely on the Lord and trust that He was leading me, and the flock that I covered, in the right direction.
“I've seen the scriptures come to life in new ways. For example in 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Word says ‘In my weakness His strength is made perfect.' Meaning that I will never be without strength as long as I remain in Him. I certainly have seen God show His strength at work in me over the last few years.”
Dr Haynes was ordained at the Fellowship's annual holy convocation in Raleigh, North Carolina, on August 17.
She wore bishopric garments and carried a staff during the ceremony, which was conducted by Archbishop David J Billings III, the chief apostle of the United Fellowship of Churches International.
A spokesperson from the religious denomination said: “Bishop Haynes is the first female bishop in the UFCI and to our knowledge, Bishop Haynes is the first female bishop in Bermuda.”
Dr Haynes will be formally installed as bishop over Bermuda and the Caribbean regions in November. Through this role, she is charged with ensuring all churches under her guidance are growing, developing and doing well.
“I will also be required to look out for opportunities in communities we don't currently serve and to train, mentor and prepare others for ministry in the Kingdom of God.” She said that it had always been her desire to bless the lives of others — no matter her title or position in the church.
“I have served God earnestly from the moment I accepted Him as my Lord and Saviour over 40 years ago,” she said.
“While I'm incredibly honoured to be elevated into the bishopric and don't take this position for granted, my focus on accomplishing the work of the Lord hasn't changed from the moment I acknowledged the call of God on my life. My prayer and desire is that God will continue to use the gifts and the anointing that is on my life to help increase the Kingdom and bless the life of people everywhere.”
In order to become a bishop, the Council of Bishops has to first consent to offering the individual a position in the bishopric. The candidate then has to be consecrated as bishop-designate, serving in that capacity for approximately a year.
During this period the Council of Bishops examines the person's life to ensure they are of “upstanding character” and trains the candidate in the catechism.
It is only then that a person can finally be consecrated into full bishopric.
The accomplishment would not have been possible without support from her close family, friends and God, Dr Haynes said. She encouraged anyone going through challenges and difficulties to hold tight to God and “cling to His promises and His Word”.
“It is during these times we need to employ and put into practise all of the lessons and strategies that we've learnt,” she said.
“When you feel the walls closing in on you, reach out to God in prayer and worship. But it is also important to remember that this Christian walk is not to be done in solitary.
“We are a community, a body of believers, who should be able to rely on one another, encourage one another and help one another. Having said that, in reaching out to God we still need each other to make it through these kinds of situations.”
• Restoration Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10.30am in the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute's Tradewinds Theatre. For more information visit rfbermuda.com