The Mission Chapel Congregational Church in, New Amsterdam, Berbice, one of the oldest churches in Guyana is celebrating 200 years in existence.
The Church, located at Chapel Street, New Amsterdam, on Sunday, held a special service to herald in a week of activities to mark the Bicentenary Anniversary celebration.
Among those in attendance were President David Granger and First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger.
President Granger in his key note address reemphasised the government’s commitment to restoring free education to all, in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.
The President told the congregation that the Church occupies an “exalted position of reverence in Guyanese history”. He noted that it played a phenomenal role in pioneering Christianity and community development at the dawn of Guyanese nationhood, as he congratulated the church on its Bicentenary.
The church holds a central place in the history of Christianity and education in Guyana, being at the forefront of the efforts to provide religious teaching and general education to the population of Berbice.
Guyana, owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to the Congregational churches for pioneering education in the villages of this country. “Their exertions laid the foundation and prepared Africans for Emancipation in 1838.
He reiterated that no child needs to pay for education because of the foundation created by the Congregationalists, which forged a link between church and school.
He said that, “The Mission Chapel Church has been a beacon of evangelism over the past two hundred years and all Guyanese should be celebrating this day.” The Church was designated a historic monument by the Government of Guyana in 1966.
The Church, he said, excels as an example of Christian faith in action as it has been resilient despite its challenges over the years.
The Congregationalism has deep roots in African-Guyanese communities. It became the main pillar of community life and worship. The freed Africans, who after Emancipation initiated the Great Village Movement with Congregationalism becoming the bedrock upon which the ‘Village Movement’ was built.
The Head of State reminded that Education was forbidden during the era of enslavement and it was Congregationalists, led by Rev. John Wray who pioneered education of Africans.
Congregational Churches led the way in providing education for Africans. They established schools within the villages and towns to ensure that children did not have to go very far.”
“Congregationalists knew about spiritual development as well as social and economic development two hundred years ago and the Church have a critical role to play in renewing the moral social and economic bases of communities “Emancipation means education and the Church’s mission is eternal”. Mission Chapel has a glorious history and certainly will have an illustrious future.”
The Pastor of the Church is Reverend Tyrone Sulker. The sermon was preached by Chairman of the Guyana Congregational Union, Reverend Valeska Austin.
The three-hour event also saw in attendance representatives of other Congregational and Christian Churches. There were many greetings and remarks and scripture readings. The congregation was entertained with choral renditions, hymns and dances.
Among those in attendance were Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, Mayor of New Amsterdam and assistant Pastor of the Church Winifred Heywood, Deputy Mayor Wainwright Mc Intosh, and Retired Judge Reverend Oslen Small, CCH.
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