THE METHODIST-TOBAGO CIRCUIT continues their year-long celebration of 200 years of existence under the overarching theme, “Celebrating 200 years of Methodist Heritage: Taking Flight in Transforming Lives.”
Speaking with Newsday Tobago on Tuesday following the launch of their heritage museum at the Scarborough Library, chairman of the celebrations Claire Brathwaite-Alexander said, with half the year gone, the second part of the theme will be under observation over the next six months.
“We’re halfway through and we’ve spent the first half on celebration and visibility and giving back to the community. The second half of the year is going to be the second part of the theme, ‘Taking Flight in Transforming Lives.’
"There is a transformative part in the gospel that we want to underline, and we want to tell the world about.”
Saying that the second half of the year is restricted to mission work, Brathwaite-Alexander said that, in September, the schools would celebrate with a quiz on Methodism, while October would be dedicated to youth month within the church.
“November is dedicated to men, so we would have men on a mission. We would be launching a number of our programmes. Our missionary outreaches will be to criminals, to prisoners, the children of prisoners. So we are focusing on that so our prison ministry will be strengthened in terms of freeing people from any kind of imprisonment. Not literally turning the keys on the doors but freeing them.
Brathwaite-Alexander said illiteracy was one of the ways through which people were imprisoned.
"So we are taking on illiteracy. We have six schools, but it may not be restricted to schools alone.”
Brathwaite-Alexander said the 200th year celebrations would culminate in December with a grand celebration.
The official celebrations were launched in February with the lighting of an "Olympic torch of Methodism" at Mt St George to remind people that Methodism was alive. The torch is expected to make its way around the ten Methodist churches in Tobago by October 20.
Additionally, in February, the circuit launched its very own Facebook page. On March 15, a hymn-writing competition was held and there was a public lecture on Methodists history and contribution to Tobago. In April, there was an anniversary service for the first sermon preached by a minister stationed in Tobago while, in May, a t-shirt day was hosted.
Brathwaite-Alexander said part of the purpose of the celebration was to strengthen the religious identity of Methodists on the island
“It is not an easy thing to say that an organisation has existed for 200 years and is still standing. More than that, I think we have set up some mutually supportive kinds of relationships. I think that we have awakened some of our people. I think some of our people are coming back and everybody wants to feel proud of who you are. Identity is important.”
She added the message coming out of the celebrations this year was multi-faceted.
“God has carried us for 200 years. God has been extremely good to us and we as people called Methodist should celebrate his goodness. The second message is that we as a church have a really rich legacy.
"Sometimes when you compare yourself to others it makes you wonder, but you need to know who you are, understand who you are, affirm who you are as Methodists, because we have something good to offer the world.”.
Brathwaite-Alexander had one message for Methodists on the island: “It has been wonderful to celebrate but the work is ahead and we have to gird ourselves and move forward in faith.”