J'can pastor in New York gets congressional proclamation on 99th birthday
"God bless you."
That's one of the favourite sayings of Reverend Charles J Barrett. And whereas he loves to proclaim blessings on others, the outpouring of love and affection on the occasion of his 99th birthday last Saturday, in Brooklyn, New York, has shown that the goodly gentleman is himself well blessed.
Reverend Barrett was born on May 19, 1919 in Higgin Land, St Ann, as the third of 15 children for his parents. He was married for 68 years and had 12 children.
More important, he answered the calling of God on December 3, 1939, and became a Christian and therein began a lifetime of commitment to public service.
Barrett pioneered the way for the Establishment of the Higgin Land Baptist Church, serving for many years as Senior Deacon in the circuit of churches that included Higgin Land, Stepney, Bethany, and Linton Park in St Ann.
Barrett also played a major role in the parish as an agriculturist.
In 1973, he migrated to the United States with his family and later went on to serve as Assistant Pastor at Full Gospel Church of God before founding the Faith Redeeming Church of God with his late wife Etta, in 1987.
On the occasion of his 99th birthday last Saturday, a celebration service was held at his church the following day to honour him, with several relatives and friends flying to New York to join those already there.
Barrett's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, along with spouses of those who are married, led the way.
Patrick Maitland, community relations officer at the Jamaican Consulate in New York was guest speaker and he joined in congratulating the pastor on reaching 99 and his contribution to society. He also presented him with a plaque and a gift basket.
Horace Wildes, a family member who travelled to New York for the event, told Family & Religion that the congregation that is made up of mainly Caribbean people really showed their love and appreciation for their pastor.
Good health and good spirits
"At 99, he's in good health and good spirits. He still preaches, his last sermon (to date) was in Easter," Wildes said. His daughter, Cynthia J. Barrett, co-pastors the church with him.
And in paying respects to the man, several honours were bestowed on him, including a Congressional Proclamation by a Member of Congress, The Honourable Hakeen Jeffries, a letter from New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, a proclamation from the president of the Borough of Brooklyn, Eric Adams, and an award from Jamaica's Consul General in New York, The Honourable Trudy Deans.
The Congressional Proclamation from The Honourable Hakeem Jeffries read, in part: "Whereas we are excited to celebrate this special occasion with Rev Charles J Barrett and members of the Faith Redeeming Church of God Inc, Be it known in view of the dedicated service and the many outstanding achievements of Reverend Charles J. Barrett, upon the occasion of his 99th birthday celebration I, Hakeem Jeffries, as a duly elected member of the United States House of Representatives, this 20th day of May 2018, join in honouring a truly outstanding community representative."
"I applaud him for the exemplary leadership he has shown. I appreciate him for providing counsel, for sharing resources with others in need, and for impacting the community through his committed service to enhance and improve the lives of all he encounters. And I thank him for all that he has done to help our communities move forward as one Brooklyn," were some of the words of Eric Dean, President of the Borough of Brooklyn.
New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio wished Barrett "good health and great happiness" while the Jamaican Consulate recognised him for his "outstanding services, inspired guidance and dedication to the community".