Timothy Stewart has left a rich legacy
THE EDITOR, Madam:
On September 16, Timothy Stewart, the first non-American to be president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), died from a heart attack. The PNBC, headquartered in Washington, DC, was the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr. The 2.5-million-member PNBC, under the leadership of Stewart, continued to fight for human freedom. During his three years out of what should have been a four-year term, Stewart brought to the forefront of PNBC, the history of the Caribbean Baptist heroes and heroines and their struggles.
Four decades ago, Stewart became senior pastor of the historic Bethel Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church in Nassau, Bahamas, and oldest continuous Baptist Church in the Caribbean. He led his church to be socially conscious, including offering 30,000 meals per year to the less fortunate.
Stewart was a board member of the Bahamas Development Bank. His family, his wife Sharon and her siblings, operate the fast-food chain Bamboo Shack in The Bahamas and Florida. Stewart was well known and loved, and as he walked the streets the people would hail him as pastor. He also served as chaplain of the House of Assembly. He was respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Stewart was a friend of Boulevard Baptist Church, preaching at the closing service for its 50th anniversary in February 2020, and he and Sharon were special guests at the Annual Festival of Choirs. Since September, every Sunday starting at 7 a.m., Stewart’s voice introduces Boulevard Baptist’s CARE FM Jamaica on 93.5 FM. He was blessed with a lovely preaching voice.
Stewart was also a personal friend.
Before Stewart’s inaugural presidential address in Atlanta (2019), he held a press conference with Stacey Abrams, almost first black female to be governor of Georgia and the Rev Raphael Warnock, then leader within PNBC, now the first black man to represent Georgia in the US Senate. But guess who introduced Stewart before he preached to that global audience? His 20-odd-year-old, musically gifted son, Gardner, who spoke extemporaneously about human interest stories with his father, devoid of academic achievements and pastoral accomplishments. It was a most touching moment. Stewart was an awesome dad to share the spotlight with his son on such an auspicious occasion.
Stewart has left a rich legacy as president of PNBC, pastor, and parent of three children for us to follow.