The historic Mocha Methodist Church is currently in a dilapidated state and as a result, members have decided to erect a new building beside it.
This decision was taken some three or four years ago, member Alexis Murray said, but they have so far only been able to put up a concrete structure with the $2.5 million that was accumulated.
She said that after an estimate was done of the cost to restore the original building, members thought it to be a better investment to construct a new building. She added that after the new church would have been completed, members are looking at options to have the old building dismantled and use the few, good materials to erect an annex. It is also being considered to use the materials to fence the two-lot compound, since she said animals in the community constantly damage the present fence.
This project, Murray explained, is being funded by the small congregation of 35, which is predominantly made up of elderly folks and young children. She stated that the church has been involved in a few fundraisers and added that a ‘Mocha Society’ has been formed in London and it has been contributing to the project.
Also, Murray said, the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) had given the group about $30,000 at the beginning of the project. She further stated that corporate Guyana was approached but there was no positive response.
Murray stated that although the new building couldn’t be considered elaborate, the initial estimate would have been $9 million. However, she noted, time would have overcome that estimate.
Meanwhile, Elsa Wilson, a member for in excess of 40 years and the current church stewardess, said the church is approximately 150 years old and is the oldest place of worship in the community of Mocha.
She explained years ago, children were called there to attend school but later a small school was built behind the church. “It was a Methodist school and the teachers had to be Methodist,” she recalled.
Wilson also spoke of the traditions of the church, stating that the bell, located in front of the church, is tolled every time someone in the community dies. “This signifies death. Persons would usually go to the steward and inform of a person’s death and the steward must make 12 strokes and the last one must be a double stroke,” she said, adding “the bell used to sound all the way in Providence and Herstelling.”
The bell is also rung during a ‘watch night’ ceremony (on old year’s night) as an indication to community members that an old year has passed and a new one has begun.
It is also rung during the funeral of a member of the church. “This is a privilege only a member gets. The bell is usually tolled when the body is leaving the church,” she explained.
Wilson further stated that the minister who serves the congregation of Mocha Methodist Church is Reverend Badditte Noelsaint.