Georgetown, Guyana – (September 27, 2018) The 200th anniversary of St. Andrew’s Kirk is an occasion for national, not parochial celebration, President David Granger said this evening, as he celebrated the milestone with members of the Church.
The Head of State said the Church is a social microscope from which the nation has much to learn about its history. He was at the time speaking at a special reception held at the Baridi Benab, State House in honour of the bicentenary observance of the Church.
“The ‘Kirk’ is more than a place of worship. It is a social institution. It mirrors the development of Georgetown through more than two centuries, replete with the controversies and contradictions of colonial society. The ‘Kirk’ is a monument to the city’s colonial Dutch and British heritage. It was approved for construction in 1784 during the Dutch regime but was built and opened for worship after the British seized Demerara in 1803. It was proposed, originally as a place of worship for Dutch settlers but, eventually, was bought and built, through public subscription, for adherents of the Established Church of Scotland, St. Andrew’s is one of Georgetown’s distinctive landmarks. It is located on Brickdam, the city’s oldest street and in Stabroek, the city’s oldest ward,” stated President Granger.
President Granger noted too that the Church’s early development reflected, not just the changes in political authority but also colonial society’s conflicting social relations. The ‘Kirk’ he said, was established to provide a place of worship primarily for Europeans, became the first church to open its doors to enslaved Africans and was also used as barracks for the Provisional Battalion deployed to suppress the Demerara Revolt of 1823 on the East Coast.
“Fifteen years after, the ‘Kirk’ hosted a historic service, attended by then Governor Sir Henry Light and scores of Africans, on August 1, 1838 to mark Emancipation. The ‘Kirk’, located opposite the Legislative Assembly, was a ‘witness’ to the execution of Damon after the Essequibo revolt was suppressed in 1834. The Kirk’s played an important role in the city’s social development. It was a font for education, having established a school in 1841. The Kirk became a centre of culture by hosting public concerts and recitals.
St. Andrew’s place in our history is assured. St. Andrew’s Kirk is the cradle of Presbyterianism in our country. The Presbyterian order has provided unbroken ministry to our people for two centuries,” the President shared.
The event was attended by Head of the St. Andrew’s Kirk, Reverend Maureen Massiah, Bishop Francis Alleyne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Georgetown, Elders and Deacons of the Kirk and other sister churches and members of the diplomatic corps.