President David Granger: Thank you Bishop Charles for inviting me to deliver a message on behalf of the State. Honourable Vice President, Carl Greenidge; Canons; Priests; Deacons and other members of the Clergy of the Anglican Diocese; members of the laity; brothers and sisters; congregation.
On behalf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana I am happy to extend congratulations to the Anglican community on the observance of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Guyana. The Diocese came into existence on the 24th of August 1842, with the consecration of the Right Reverend William Austin as the first Bishop of Guyana. The establishment of the Diocese also resulted in the parochial church of St. George, which was built in 1809, being consecrated as the Bishop’s See and as a cathedral church. It also resulted in Georgetown becoming a city.
Congregation, we are reminded as we celebrate the 175th year of the Diocese that this year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, protested against abuses in the church on the 31st of October, 1517. Luther’s protest initiated the Protestant Reformation, the greatest upheaval the Christian church has ever known since the crucifixion of Christ. With the invention of printing, people were able to read, to acquire and to understand the Holy Bible in their own languages. Protestant denominations: Adventism, Anglicanism, Calvinism, Congregationalism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Pentecostalism, Presbyterianism; you see what freedom brings when people can read the Bible for themselves- all the isms.
All of these emerged over succeeding centuries. Anglicanism is a product of the Protestant Reformation. Congregation, the Diocese of Guyana occupies a permanent place and plays a pivotal role in public and private life. Anglicans, I am told, constitute almost 7% of Guyana’s population. Anglicanism has deep roots in our communities with churches in every hinterland and coastal region. These churches pioneered missions among Africans, Amerindians, the Chinese and the Indians over the years. Growing up in Essequibo at Bartica, in Berbice at Whim and in Demerara here in Georgetown, I never had to travel more than 30 minutes from my home to reach an Anglican church, so ubiquitous were they in those times.
The Diocese of Guyana also is home to some of the most elegant, the most spectacular churches, including of course, the iconic cathedral of St. George which adorns our hundred-dollar currency note. The Diocese through the foresight of our first Bishop established Queen’s College as early as 1844, two years after he become Bishop and later, the very appropriately named Bishop’s High School – and to this day Queen’s College and Bishop’s High School continue to reflect the high standards of their Anglican founders.
The Diocese therefore is important at the national, institutional and personal levels. This church particularly has been the spiritual home of my own family for over a century. I was baptised here seventy- two years ago. I was confirmed and I married Sandra my wife, forty-seven years ago right here in Christ Church and from time to time the parish priest would get a glimpse of me as I pay a visit to worship here. My father, born a hundred and eleven years ago, and my children worshipped here. All of my grandchildren were baptised here at Christ Church so I make a personal statement being here this afternoon as an Anglican and as a parishioner of Christ Church.
The interruption you heard congregation, comes from someone who actually took the trouble to photocopy my baptismal certificate and send it to me as, if I’d forgotten so infrequently he saw me, but thank you very much David Dewar. The Diocese deserves our gratitude for its service to women and youth. I’m not sure which is the first Diocese or church to establish a Diocesan Youth Centre, but this Diocese did so. It also serves the poor and the needy. Guyana applauds the episcopacy, the clergy and the laity for the propagation of the gospel in Guyana. The Diocese can be assured of my Government’s support for the church’s education efforts just as I’ve supported Hindu and Islamic schools through the National Endowment for Science and Technology.
I recently met Bishop Charles and assured him I would support the Anglican Church in its own education efforts. I know you normally don’t clap in church but the Bishop started it, so please clap. Congregation, the State looks forward to working with the Diocese, towards making Guyana a better place and to providing a good life for all in the years ahead.
I wish every success to the Diocese of Guyana as it commemorates its 175th anniversary and may God bless you all.