As an outsider looking in at the literal tearing down of a place of worship, the St Barnabas Church in Georgetown, I am extremely appalled to say the least. Churches, especially our Catholic and Anglican churches are blessed and consecrated by the local Bishop.
No house of God should ever face the same fate as St Barnabas and be de-consecrated; it’s just not right. But one must ask the question, how did this church get to that dire stage, whereby nothing else could have been done but to sell the building, then have it demolished, erased from the Bourda landscape and indeed the annals of our history? Now, when the damage has been done, outrage and regrets are coming from left, right and centre, especially from the Anglican diaspora; too little, too late I say.
On June 12 KN said: “For one, vagrants have taken over the compound of the church, which occupies three lots… faeces are all over the compound… vagrants, known as ‘junkies’ use the compound to defecate, wash their clothes, and sleep.” Oh my goodness! How did the Anglican parishioners in that church community allow their church to get to that sad state of affairs? Obviously it did not happen overnight. The gradual state of affairs of St Barnabas Church took place over a period of years.
The situation at St Barnabas is a reflection of how impotent the Anglican Church has become in Guyana. The Church was formerly at the forefront of education, culture, etc, but it is clear that it is experiencing a severe loss of membership, and is referred to as “the senior citizens’ Church.” And the lay people, as well as Church leaders, do not seem to have addressed this problem. The reality is that we see St Barnabas, once a vibrant church community (from what I read), dying a proverbial death. How sad!
Then we have Abiola Innis, crying over spilt milk in the newspapers a few days ago. She is, presumably, writing from overseas and now has a wake-up call about her beloved St Barnabas church.
Well, it is too late. There is no way “this travesty can be stopped,” because just as she chastised and pointed fingers at the “worst form of intellectual impotence” of the Anglican leadership here, a finger is pointed back at the Anglican community, because they have played a role too. Somewhere along the line, that church community started to become degraded: absenteeism, poor cash collections, and the rest is history.
A church is not a building alone, rather it is the congregation which loves, cares for, supports and builds up the local church. St Barnabas, however, was left to decay and the people there abandoned it for “other Anglican churches, since “whatever funds the Anglican Church has would be better spent on other church buildings, such as St George’s, instead of St Barnabas” (KN, June 12).