Parish Annual Report

December 2016

Dear Friends

In my role as Parish Administrator, I would like to give all our friends and supporters a brief summary of events over the past 12 months.  It has been a time of significant change – both for our Church here on the island and the political world in the UK and USA, as well as the world at large.  I do think that no matter what your views might be on change, it is incumbent on all of us to look forward and to see how we can react in a positive manner.

For our Church, over the summer we received the news that Father Charlie was stepping down as our Parish Priest.  He has spent 14 years in that role and we extend our heartfelt thanks for all the guidance, ministry and spirituality that he has given us - both to our Church and the wider St Barts community.

St Martin

In light of this change, the Vestry has been in communication with our Bishop and he has reverted to the position prior to Father Charlie’s appointment, which is that we will fall under the auspices of the Parish Priest on St Martin.

I am very pleased to report that the Bishop and our new Priest-in-Charge on St Martin, Father Terrence Rawlins, have given their permission for us to continue to have the benefit of inviting visiting clergy to our Church, as we have been doing for many years.  We will now formalise their role and they will be known as our “Priest-in-Residence” during their stay with us.

1855 Works

I spent most of the summer on St Barts supervising the 1885 works.  It was a privilege to work alongside so many talented and dedicated island artisans, all of whom cared about the building as much as we all do.  

During the summer, the outreach of the Church did not stop and we continued to hold all our weekly services, albeit in the smaller confines of the Church Centre … perfect for the reduced low season numbers!  

Island Community

Over the summer, we also experienced first-hand how the island community is able to work together.  During the period when our Church was closed, the island catholic priest, Père Rossi, made available his church in Gustavia if it was needed for services that could not be accommodated in our Church Centre.  Sadly, we had to avail ourselves of this for the funeral of Monsieur Roger Louis, well- known to those who bumped into him as he walked around Gustavia. Père Rossi not only provided us with a church but also their organist and choir.

In November we welcomed the retired Archdeacon of Ontario, the Venerable Robert Hales, to St Barts.  It was his first visit and it happily coincided with Pitea day – the island’s celebration of the twinning with the Swedish Town.  As well as being invited to an ecumenical service at the Swedish Cemetery in Public, the Archdeacon was invited to Saturday Evening Mass by the Catholic Bishop from Guadeloupe, who was visiting St Barts that weekend - it made for a very special St Barts occasion.

During 2016

During the year we invited a record number of visiting clergy – fourteen in total over the whole year, from far and wide, including Maine, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, and San Francisco, as well as Canada and the UK.  I wish to thank each of them for the guidance and the ministry that they brought to our island community.

I am also honoured to report that our Bishop saw fit to appoint me as a Lay Reader of the Parish.  This means that even in the absence of a visiting minister we can continue to hold formal services in the Church.  Hence, during the year we held services every Sunday with a total of over 4,000 people welcomed in the church.  We also conducted 8 weddings and renewals of vows plus 10 baptisms, as well as offering Taizé and Mediation groups on weekday evenings.

I am very happy to report that our music ministry continues to impress.  Ombeline Collin and our regular pianist Michael Parisot (supported by Lloyd Younger during high season and our reserve pianist Kiki Petat), make our Sunday services very memorable, and I continually hear praise from members of the congregation about our music – from regulars and first-timers alike!

Thank You

We are grateful to so many of you who continue to support the Church in a generous and selfless way. In particular, I wish to thank the Trustees of our US Non-profit Foundation, without whose support we would not be able to offer our spirituality and fellowship to so many.

As I mentioned above, change should be viewed as a challenge, not feared.  I would like to encourage everyone to see the current changes at St Bartholomew’s as a surmountable challenge – as we work together to ensure that everything which Father Charlie, together with Charles Darden, have built up over the past 15 years will continue.  To meet this challenge, we will need your support more than ever to guarantee that St Bartholomew’s wonderful programs, services and spirituality will continue to grow in the future.

With blessings,

Philip