The Diocese of the Virgin Islands is to be a strong body for Christ, working together to share their gifts as they try to rebuild a community of love. The reminder came from The Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales Maldonado, Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico and Advisor Bishop for the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. He was speaking during the 66th annual convention of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, held July 13-15, 2023 on the island of St. Croix in the USVI, under the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’.
According to Bishop Morales, the time is now to rebuild diocesan spirit and to pray for the Holy Spirit for personal and church renewal so that the Episcopal Church could be disciples of Jesus in the Virgin Islands. He noted that the convention theme is descriptive of the Church which, unlike a closed club, is to be open to everyone, so that persons can join together to share their gifts, accepting and loving people as they are. He suggested that change must begin with everyone asking, “What will I do to make change and make things better?”
As Advisor Bishop, he promised to travel to the diocese monthly and to visit each of the three deaneries. He reminded lay and clergy delegates that being a diocesan community is a necessary preparatory step to calling a diocesan bishop and that building such a community is their co-responsibility. He said it is time to proclaim that old things are over and the diocese is at a place of new beginnings as, together, they become witnesses of reconciliation.
The Diocese of the Virgin Islands, the smallest in the Episcopal Church, is made up of congregations in the British and US Virgin Islands. Its previous diocesan bishop, The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs, retired in May 2021.
A delegation from the Deanery of the British Islands has returned home after representing the Diocese of the Virgin Islands at EYE 2023 and at "It's All About Love: A Festival for the Jesus Movement", both of which took place in Baltimore, Maryland in July of 2023.
The group included Clevanna Forbes and Timothy Malone, who served as young adult volunteer staff, chaperones Sybil Hodge and Trevor Bridgewater, and delegates from the three congregations in the Deanery. They were Palesa Caesar and Te'coy Harrigan from St. George's, Sydni Georges, Rahian Richards, and Shaheen Samuel from St. Paul's, both of which are on Tortola, and Karla Flax from St. Mary's on Virgin Gorda.
The young people, who were very excited to interact with their peers from throughout the Episcopal Church, presented plaques to Canons Ron Byrd, Myra Garnes, and Stephanie Spellers in appreciation for their assistance (through the Office of African Descent Ministries) in helping them to make the trip.
The first two photos show them about to leave the BVI, the third is the logo from their shirts, the next three show them at EYE, and the last is Canon Garnes with her plaque.