St Mark's Anglican Church celebrates 200 years
A beacon of light serving the parish of Manchester for more than 200 years, the St Mark's Anglican Church on Sunday, April 24, held a rededication service, celebrating centuries of excellence and a move towards a vibrant future.
The church was recognised for its rich history and the impact it has had on the communities it serves.
Lord Bishop of Jamaica, Reverend Dr Howard Gregory, who once served at the Parish Church, gave high commendations during his address, for the church remaining true to its purpose and continuing the work it was called to do.
"In participating in this year of celebration, we must recall the honesty and integrity, where we have come from as a church," he began.
Having much influence in the establishment of a number of schools such as Bishop Gibson High School, Manchester High School, and Church Teachers' College, located in the capital, the education of a large number of children is an act the church is extremely proud of, among other accomplishments.
"This celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the past, assess the present, and envision the future. We must note that there was much more to the life of this congregation throughout its history than any failure which may have characterised it in times past."
He continued, "We are gathered together in this church which some may take to mean a significant space - a building which holds some memories and experiences which has significance for the congregation which has worshipped here over centuries - even as it may just be a building or a point of reference for people who live in this and surrounding communities, this place of worship has occupied a special place in the hearts of members over countless generations.
"This physical temple signifies for us a place of corporate worship for the community of faith and a dwelling place of God: it is the place of celebration of the sacraments, life transitions, successes, failures, and distresses. It is a place where thanksgiving and prayers of anguish find expression and tears for which the Holy Spirit understands. It is a place for fellowship and support for each other. It is important that we remind ourselves that this church does not exist simply to be a gathering place for its members so that they can have fellowship and worship experiences, because the church is called to be an agent of God's mission to the world."
He advised that church must continue to be holy as God is holy and calls them to be holy.
"In Ephesians 1:4 it states 'God chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and blameless and to live by his love in his presence'. Holiness does not mean moral perfection. We have a vocation as a consecrated people to live lives which reflect the very nature and character of God."
He made mention of the church's role as not just a religious environment, but also a social, economic, and political environment. He, however, advised the church to hold steadfast to its values, not conforming to the ways of the world and deviating from traditional principles.
Among the hundreds who gathered to witness the significant milestone were Juliet Holness, Member of Parliament for East Rural St Andrew and wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness; representative of the Governor General, Custos Sally Porteous; members of parliament and community stakeholders and a host of foundation members of the church.
In extending commendations to the centenarians of the church and the work they have completed, the Custos, on behalf of the Governor General, encouraged the church to build on the legacy that exists.
"The congregation at St Mark's has used their position in the parish to strategically influence much-needed cultural and social developments. Let this celebration be a defining moment in your 200th history as you are about to build on your legacy of positive influence."
Mrs Holness in her address, shared the sentiments of the custos and pledged her support and that of the government to the church.
"It is not by coincidence that the church is situated in the centre of the most central parish, indicating that worship and service to humanity are pivotal to our existence. We invite you to reaffirm the abhorrence of evil by rededicating yourselves to teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ - the singular route to salvation. Rest assured that you will have the support of our family, our government and all well-thinking faith-believing Jamaicans in continuing the mission of evangelism."
Join us next week for Part 2 in a three-part series on the history of the Mandeville Parish Church and those who helped to make it what it is today.