When I was 16 I met a young lad Wesley Granger. Two or three years later I paid a visit to my third Church. Grainger was a member and had invited me regularly. It was ok., a bit ‘strange’, Pentecostal.
I again visited almost a decade later, as I was putting on a play and part of the bonding thing was doing something we could all appreciate but was still newish, so as to be interesting. We hit upon visiting each other’s churches ( if we had one) as one of the things we could do. A Seventh Day denomination member took us to an open air meeting, a novelty for me. Up til then all open air meetings for me were political meetings. I still remember it, and us sitting on a backless bench under the Moon on a quite night, our feet firmly fidgeting on the grass of the field. We went to a Methodist – Wesleyan Holiness – place, to my first Church, St. Matthias’ Anglican, a Church of the Nazarene event, and to The People’s Cathedral.
It was an evening service. We got there a little early to meet up and chat, then went in with the many others who were streaming in. I had thought that because it was an evening service we’d be out of there in an hour or so, max. I was wrong.
The service began coolly at 7 p.m. to “warm up” the early birds; because you see, the actual service didn’t officially begin until 7:30 p.m.! O.K.
Half hour of gusto singing and waving of hands later, the Church space now full (on a weeknight???!), the main players took their places on the slightly raised stage, sat, appeared to pray as each bowed his head, and then stood up….to sing!!! I mean, we’d done that, get on with it. No. They sang and wiggled a little and shouted hallelujah and praise the Lord, and waved hands in the air and laughed, and wiped sweat from their faces, and…. Good Lord, my feet are tired, I am tired, and I have to go to work tomorrow…
Ha! They stopped!! God answers prayer. Hallelujah!
Hallelujah. I sighed with relief as I sat down on the wooden pew placed on the hard floor, and slipped my shoes off. I was steadily relaxing and drifting into a doze when I was nudged awake to the sound of loud laughter and then the clapping of hands, by the enthusiastic young fellow next to me. This was Pastor Williams on tonight and he had the place jumping. Literally.
Failing a short nap, I listened to the Pastor and quite began to enjoy his lecture/sermon. His style and delivery was something to make you forget sleep. At intervals I checked the time. 8:30 came and went. They then had more singing, soloists etc and an “Altar Call” that was to me sort of like a communion service get-up, then more praying and singing and praising God til I wondered if we’d get out of there before midnight. Thankfully we did.
And as we walked away to get our buses home, something happened to me, I decided I wanted to go to this church again. It had been recommended to me and for me, on a specific number of occasions, by certain work colleagues and others. I at last made the decision to go. Dr. Williams put that fire in my belly.
Dr. Holmes Williams
One could say nothing about The People’s Cathedral on Bishop’s Court Hill without saying something about Rev. Dr. Williams. The man encapsulated all it meant and stood for. Frankly, he had vision.
I had the honour and privilege to have a number of conversations with him over the few years that I attended that church and always found him sensitive strong and kindly. He was knowledgeable socially politically and, to me, theologically, and he cared.
He was sound if often way out there with his hopes and dreams about what a church assembly could accomplish in building and maintaining a healthy community. He was also a man given to a wealth of humour.
Read a profile here: Dr Holmes Williams
The church itself was more like a big barn or shed with three main entrances for worshippers. It was not festooned and decorated as you would have expected of one of the most popular controversial and successful congregational facilities in a small country. It championed schools, charity work, youth enterprise/teaching and of course Christ. It’s great logo was “Christ is the Answer” which was also the title and theme of its broadcasts. To the question “answer for what?” the Pastor had one word EVERYTHING. To him Christ was the answer to everything. Hmmm
I later joined this church group and found myself quite enjoying the services and atmosphere, and the delightful freedom of dancing to the music of the hyms and songs. And yep, I was soon waving my arms in the air like a true pentecostal convert.
The other Pastors were considerate, rather humble, and attentive when I sought them out on any matter. They were, all of them, approachable even though one could see at times how pushed they were. Among those I remember are Pastor P. Drayton and Pastor Wilma Gill who is still there. I spoke very briefly with Pastor Gill on a visit there when I was home in 2017 (I turned up at the end of an evening service while the last song was being sung and some people were heading for the doors) and I think she may have remembered me, later. I never got back to visit again before I left.
Pastor Williams has passed on and long before that and since, the church has been changing and moving in new dimensions. It is a world Church. It is a community outpost. It is a place to gather your thoughts.
For me the real mark of the People’s Cathedral on Bishop Court’s Hill, St. Michael, Barbados, was the freedom I felt there.
This my third church opened my eyes to so many things. Through its unique teaching and openess of its leaders I learned to truly trust God/the Creator/the Cosmos, and to stand alone. To stand alone is to truly stand; to truly TRUST. This was its greatest gift to me. It was something I had to learn and to ACCEPT. It gave me space to live, and the freedom to be happy with myself, with my lot.
There too was that particular fellowship that was bonded by prayer, which I had sensed elsewhere. But here at the People’s Cathedral I finally accepted who and that I am; and that it is hard to “kick against the pricks.” 🙂 This was my final stop before I took off into the wide wide world.
Christ Is the Answer…