Church of the Most Holy Trinity
The idea of a Church in Stapledon was planted in the mind of F. S. McPherson Williams, who we all knew as Mackey. Mackey had become aware that the Anglican Diocese owned a house formerly occupied by the Headmaster of St. John’s College, and then occupied by the Diocesan Secretary/Treasurer, Fr. Etienne Bowleg. Mackey approached Bishop Michael Eldon who was very receptive to the idea of a Church in the area, so a meeting was called with a group of Anglicans who lived in Stapledon at the home of Mackey Williams and his wife Cindy. This led to a series of meetings, chaired by Fr. Bowleg and on occasion by Bishop Eldon. The group agreed on the name, Church of the Most Holy Trinity, which was the name of an abandoned Anglican church on the corner of Gladstone & Carmichael Roads
So, on Advent Sunday, 1972, at 9 am, the first Mass was held in Fr. Bowleg’s living room, attended by a small but enthusiastic group of Anglicans drawn from Churches in New Providence. The Sunday Morning attendance soon outgrew Fr. Bowleg’s living room, so an appeal was made to the Member of Parliament and a tent was loaned to the Church by the Branch Chairman of the Gambier Constituency and services relocated to the tent. Membership continued to grow, and parishioners were joined in song by birds of the air. An altar was being discarded by St. Mary’s Church, and this was acquired by Holy Trinity to become the High Altar, with the boundary wall of the residence serving as the Communion rail.
A Sunday School, which was also a part of Mackey Williams’ dream, was soon started, under the leadership of Secreta Gaskin. This was followed by a Confirmation Class to meet the need for Youth to become members of the young parish. From the early days of the Church, all ministries were undergirded with prayer by a small but faithful group of prayer warriors, led by Selreta Gaskin and Mary Johnson.
Unfortunately, the tent was destroyed by a tornado, and replaced by another tent, which suffered a similar fate – being destroyed by strong winds. A decision was made to relocate to a nearby building, and the Bahamas Union of Teachers Hall on Bethel Avenue was rented for the purpose of holding future services. Music for services was supplied by an organ gifted to the Church by Christ the King, – a Spinet Hammond Organ which had been taken out of use and placed in storage at Christ the King. This served the parish until 1975 when it was replaced by an organ given to us by Martin Conliffe.
Under Fr. Bowleg’s leadership, and with his dynamic preaching, the Church had grown to the point where it could afford to build a Church building, so Fr. Bowleg assembled a committee of men, including Carlton Jones, Winston Knight, Rudolph Chambers, Milan Gittens, Preston Hanna, Rodney Williams and Sonny Maraj to help him design the building. Fr. Bowleg wanted to be close to the whole congregation, so he visualized a “Church in the round” and an architect, Mr. Lorne Minns, suggested that we adopt the basic design of the Nassau Harbour Club, which still stands on Bay St., opposite the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza. The building currently houses a restaurant known as “Latitudes”. The Harbour Club is a 6-sided building so it would allow for a congregation to be close to the High Altar in the centre of the building, no matter where they sat. Plans were drawn, approvals obtained, and a loan granted by the Chemical Bank. This loan was backed by several parishioners, out of gratitude to God for what He was doing in their lives.
The contract for the construction of the building was granted to Mosko United Construction Company, construction was begun and supervised by Fr. Bowleg and the men of the Church. Construction was completed in time for the building to be dedicated on Trinity Sunday, May 25th 1975. Members of the Vestry at the time of the dedication were:
- Wellington Bullard, Catechist
- Audrey Tucker, Secretary
- Sydney & Susan Wallace
- Rudolph & Alma Chambers
- Carlton Jones
- Rodney Williams
- Patricia Walcott, Youth Officer
At the time of the dedication, Priest’s vestments and altar linen were sewn by Frances Williams with the assistance of her sister-in-law, Gloria Hanna.
The dedication service was a glorious celebration of thanksgiving to God, attended by the existing congregation and many friends and well-wishers.
The Church continued to grow, and a Choir, the Senior Choir was formed. A Praise Team, led by Jan Clarke, and comprised of her sisters, Marie, Karen & Shelly, Pat Chambers & Marion Parris were leading the congregation in worship. Youth Ministry was flourishing. ACM & ACW branches had been commissioned. Several organists had provided the music – Donna Donaldson & Faith Finlayson, prior to the engagement of Leroy Thompson, who proved the most loyal, dedicated and longest-serving organist in the Church’s history. He was assisted over the years by Merle Mahabir, Ray Saunders, Lee Callendar, Flora Simpson, Cleophas Adderley, Olga Richards & Darrell Hurston.
In 1977, Fr. Bowleg left the Parish in the hands of Fr. Fred Fleischer, as he journeyed to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. at Huron College in the University of Western Ontario. During Fr. Fleischer’s time the momentum built up by Fr. Bowleg under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, enabled the Church to continue its ministry. A 7am service was started at the request of parishioners, but most things remained the same.
On Fr. Bowleg’s return to the Parish in 1980, he felt a need for renewal to take place, and in this regard, he had heard of a renewal movement called “Faith Alive” which had been developed by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in York Pennsylvania. Interestingly, a businessman, Web McCormack visited Nassau for a Business Conference and on a Sunday Morning, he asked a taxi driver at the Balmoral Hotel (now Sandals) to take him to a nearby church, and the taxi driver, a Rev. Rodgers, though himself a Baptist, strongly suggested Holy Trinity, as he had heard of the dynamic ministry that was being held there. Web came, and after church, the Holy Spirit was at work, and as Fr. Bowleg was greeting parishioners and visitors, Web introduced himself to Fr. Bowleg and said he was a member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Fr. Bowleg became excited, got Web’s contact information, and they kept in touch regarding Faith Alive. One thing Web said was vital was a dynamic prayer ministry, and so Fr. Bowleg worked with Mrs. Gaskin to develop the Prayer Band into a more broad-based group. In the meantime, Web advised Fr. Bowleg to attend a Faith Alive that was being held at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, Florida. Fr. Bowleg not only went but took with him Mrs. Gaskin, Lois Turnquest, Mary Johnson & Rodney Williams, who immediately saw the potential of Faith Alive to bring renewal to Holy Trinity.
As a result, a Faith Alive weekend was held at Holy Trinity March 2nd – 5th, 1982, and this marked a pivotal point in the life of Holy Trinity. Under the leadership of Web, accompanied by a group of truly Spirit-filled persons the team not only led persons to Christ in the homes in which they stayed but in small groups during the weekend. On the Sunday morning of the Faith Alive, virtually the whole congregation went forward for prayers for various needs, but in most cases to accept Christ or to rededicate their lives to Him. In addition, on that incredible and life-changing weekend, many persons were led into the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues and sang in the Spirit. We learned new songs that helped to usher in the Holy Spirit into our prayer time and our worship experiences.
The visiting Faith Alive team included men who were members of the “Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship and ladies who were from “Women’s Aglow”, and Holy Trinity members helped found Chapters of both of these organizations soon after Faith Alive. Only “Women’s Aglow” still survives, however, there is no doubt that Faith Alive, Full Gospel and Aglow all contributed greatly to the growth of Holy Trinity and that what happened at Holy Trinity flowed over into the rest of the Diocese.
Certainly, it can be said that the impact of Faith Alive extended far beyond the weekend. A large group from Holy Trinity travelled to the Faith Alive Conference at the Kanuga Conference Centre in Hendersonville, North Carolina the same year that Faith Alive was held at the Church. While attending this Conference, members got information about Evangelism Explosion and Church Growth from persons at the Conference. Armed with books about Evangelism and Church Growth at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien Connecticut, Holy Trinity Members came back from Kanuga ready to put into practice what they had learned. Fr. Bowleg, Kelsie Dorsett, Egan Cartwright and Rodney Williams attended a Leadership Training Clinic at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church shortly afterwards, and implemented the Ministry of Evangelism Explosion, passing on what they had learned at Coral Ridge, and assisting greatly in the numerical growth of Holy Trinity.
About the same time, Bishop Eldon, several clergy and Elaine Deveaux attended Cursillo weekends in Florida after Bishop Eldon heard about Cursillo on Radio Station WGBS, and realized that it could have a tremendous impact on the Anglican Diocese in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Bishop Eldon then decided to tap into what was happening at Holy Trinity, and sponsored Rodney Williams to attend a Cursillo weekend in Miami, and as a result, many persons from Holy Trinity and other churches also attended Cursillo in Florida. A Community was formed in the Bahamas, and the Diocese of Southeast Florida led the Bahamas Diocese through the process of importing Cursillo into our Diocese, and as a result a weekend for Men was held at St. John’s College and a weekend for Women at St. Augustine’s College in October 1986. Such was the influence of these weekends, that renewal spread throughout the Diocese.
Faith Alive has continued to be sought after by other Churches in the Diocese who are seeking renewal, and members of Holy Trinity, working with members of other Anglican Churches have led weekends in all but a few Anglican Churches in New Providence, and several family Islands, one in Providenciales, and another in Grand Turk. A team from Holy Trinity, have, with the blessing of the Faith Alive Board, also held a weekend at Holy Trinity Church in Montego Bay.
Youth Teams from Holy Trinity have been asked on several occasions to assist after Faith Alive weekends, with the building up of Youth Ministries in the Churches where Faith Alive has been held.
Another vibrant Ministry, Joshua Generation, under the leadership of Lisa Bastian have initiated an Annual Children’s Prayer Conference, where children of all ages are taught to grow into a lifestyle of Prayer.
For many years, after Holy Trinity went into renewal, an Annual Prayer Conference was held at Holy Trinity, and at times at Hotels in Nassau/Paradise Island. These Conferences often attracted members of Churches of all denominations – women and men, to be ministered to by international speakers. Coordination of these Conferences fell under the prayerful, gifted leadership of Mrs. Gaskin always assisted by Pastor Ella Cobbs, and their success is notable in that other Churches soon began having their own Conferences.
Holy Trinity has also led Evangelism Training Clinics in Churches in other denominations, including Mt. Tabor, Antioch Baptist, and Robinson Morris AME Zion Church allowing them to become evangelists in their own right.
All of the above events took place under the visionary guidance of the Reverend Dr. Etienne Bowleg, who later became Archdeacon Bowleg, a man who used his gifts to build lives and develop ministries to meet the needs of people in his congregation, who fearlessly, often at their own expense went into “Jerusalem, Judea, and all parts of the earth”, taking what they had learned. Members of Holy Trinity give God all the Praise and Glory for sending Archdeacon Bowleg to Minister to them, and continue to look with nostalgia on the accomplishments achieved during his Ministry.
Stapledon Gardens New Providence P.O. Box N-8696