Church guild celebrates 125 years of service to Bermuda
The Guild of the Good Shepherd celebrates 125 years tomorrow, March 7.
A special service will be held at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity to commemorate the occasion.
Pamela Carlington, vice-president of the Guild of the Good Shepherd, explains why this anniversary is important to celebrate.
“You don’t hear much about church guilds these days. Many are no longer active. But for those which are still functional, we still play an important role in the life of the church.”
“The guilds came from out of the lodges. During a time of segregation, people decided that we needed something within the church for ourselves; for Black people. And it is something that has continued and done great work within the church.”
Church guilds were formed in the late 1800s throughout the Anglican Church of Bermuda. A cross between a social club and a friendly society, these guilds played an important role in the life of the church.
Michelle Simmons, a long-time member of The Guild of the Good Shepherd, chronicled the history of the guild in The Guild of the Good Shepherd and Bermuda’s Forgotten Anglican Missionaries.
In the book, which was released last year, Ms Simmons explains that Bermuda’s first guild formed in 1896 and within two years had over 400 members. The purpose of the guild was largely to provide support and opportunities for service amongst black members of the Anglican Church, in what was still a very segregated time in Bermuda’s history.
Over time other guilds were formed around the island as separate groups. By 1958 there were 14 guilds within the Anglican Church of Bermuda, with at least one in each parish. The Guild of the Good Shepherd, since it is the oldest guild, is still referred to as the ‘Mother Guild’.
At the height of membership, the 14 guilds encompassed of a lively group of lay persons who were actively involved in church ministry and outreach. Guilds around the island were known for their community events, bazaars, tea parties and Bingo nights.
“I’ve been involved in the guilds since I was a little girl.” Ms Carlington recalled. “My mother and grandmother were members of St Barnabas Guild, which is now St Paul’s Guild in Paget. I’ve been a member of The Guild of the Good Shepherd for about 26 years now.
“Membership and activity within the guild has decreased over the years as our members have aged, but we are still active in visiting the sick, spreading Christmas cheer, hosting social events and fundraising.”
She continued: “We also provide an educational bursary in memory of one of our beloved guild members, Mildred Hill, to assist students wishing to attend the Bermuda College.”
Tomorrow’s 10am Eucharistic service will celebrate this milestone for the guild with participation from guild members and a special greeting from Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and the first Black woman to become a bishop in the Church of England.
“So many good people have given their time and talents to the guild and we take this opportunity to remember and thank them for their service to the church,” Ms Carlington added.
To stream the service visit www.youtube.com/anglicanchurchofbermuda