One hundred and twenty-five years ago, in 1894, the biblical truths, as presented by the Seventh-day Adventist church, navigated the rough seas of the Caribbean to the sandy shores of the Cayman Islands. It was a young native of East End, Captain Gilbert Magdaly McLaughlin, who brought this truth with him. He stood courageously against the tide of popular beliefs and presented this different and unique message, which he had received on the island of Bonacca, Honduras, to family and friends of East End.
Hundreds of members, representing seventeen Adventist congregations in the Cayman Islands, gathered at the Lions Centre on Saturday afternoon, 12th October, to celebrate 125 years since the Adventist message came to the Cayman Islands, under the theme: ‘Lest You Forget’.
The celebration began with the praise team leading some old-time favourite hymns such as, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, ‘Standing on the Promises’ and ‘Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory’. The Executive Secretary of the Conference, Pastor Jeff Jefferson, gave a personal welcome to members of each congregation by having them stand and identify themselves as their name was called.
The newest pastoral family to the Cayman Islands, Pastor Andrew Campbell, his wife Anneli and two daughters Lillian and Eliana were welcomed and formally introduced to the gathering. He is returning home, after giving seven years of sterling service to the Norwegian Union. Pastor Campbell prayed and asked for God’s presence during the celebration service.
Mr Rudy Myles, from the George Town Church, shared a brief history of the Sunday/Sabbath debates that took place in 1955. Based on his research in the Archives, Dr Jeffery Thompson’s book “The History of the Adventist Church in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands’ and interviews, he learned that the case was taken to court and in the end the word of God over-ruled. It was declared that, based on the Bible, the Seventh day is the Sabbath.
Mrs Angela Piercy, communications director and Mr John Wesley, chief financial officer, launched the new and improved conference website. According to Mr Wesley, the website would function well on all screen sizes, such as mobile phones, tablets and desktops. It would reflect the friendly environment of the conference and give visitors a glimpse into who we are behind our name. The new website includes our various ministries’ philosophies, short videos on our beliefs, updated team photos and bios and quite a bit of new content describing our services and work. It will also give the inside scoop on community projects soon to come on stream for ADRA, ASI and Manna Centre. He said: ‘The final product is fresh and new with many more features to be implemented’.
A brief history was presented on nine of our congregations that are referred to as younger churches, or churches with less than 30 years since they were established. Each church shared the following: Year established, founding officers, name of the first pastor, membership when started, present membership and one major contribution their church has made to the community. In this group of churches, Kings is the oldest with 22 years and the youngest is Solid Rock Ministries with four years.
There were a few heart touching musical items interspersed throughout the programme, including the song ‘He’s God’, presented by the conference’s mass choir directed by Mr Kharim Samuels.
A main feature of the afternoon was a panel discussion, led by Conference President, Pastor Reinaldo Dracket, comprised of persons from the eight, older churches, having more than 30 years since they were established. The panellist, given in order of age of church, from oldest to youngest, were: Dorinda Green – East End, Rudy Myles – George Town, Pedro Lazzari – Creek, Carla Sue-McLaughlin – Bodden Town, William (Billy) Ebanks – West Bay, Carl Barnes – Savannah, Marvin Frederick – North Side and Alex Carias – Filadelfia. They all shared a brief history of their humble beginnings and testified of God’s leading in the establishment of the church. Challenges were many and varied, but in the end they were more than conquerors. The Adventist Church has grown from one member in 1894 to over 6,000 in 2019.
After a thought-provoking devotional charge by Women’s Ministries’ guest speaker, Pastor Chanda Nunes, Pastor Dracket led out in a ‘Passing of the Torch of Truth’ ceremony. He said that: ‘truth must continue to be passed on from generation to generation until Jesus comes’.
The symbolic ‘Torch of Truth’ passing consisted of three categories. Firstly, the retired and senior pastors passed on the ‘Torch of Truth’ to the younger pastors. Pastor Dracket encouraged the younger pastors to keep truth burning in these Cayman Islands. Secondly, retired and senior church Elders passed the ‘Torch of Truth’ on to the younger Elders. Thirdly, Pastor Dracket called on senior members, who had worked with youth over the years, to pass on the ‘Torch of Truth’ to the youth under 35 years of age. It was a sobering and solemn moment.
Dr Wilton G. McDonald, the longest-serving administrator and pastor in the conference, offered the dedicatory prayer and charged all to continue to keep the light of God’s word burning in their lives.
The celebration concluded with Shepherdess Leader, Mrs Nelda Dracket, leading out in a candle lighting ceremony. She said: ‘Today we have passed on the ‘Torch of Truth’ and that truth is Jesus. For He Himself said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father but by Me”’. While a group of young people sang ‘Go Light Your World’, she lit the candle of the president who in turn lit the candles of the other Conference Administrators. They went into the audience and lit many more candles; symbolising that we all can pass on the torch of truth and go light the world.