St. Mary's, Virgin Gorda ECW
When Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the British Virgin Islands in 2017, it seems
that to many, the island of Virgin Gorda – home of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church
- “got it the worst”. The hurricanes coupled with the crippling effects of the COVID
pandemic hurt the congregation’s attendance, stewardship, and outreach efforts in the
community. Its guilds and ministries either ceased to exist or they functioned at a
fraction of their former activity. With the call of the Reverend Ellis Clifton, Jr.
attendance and stewardship have improved, and the guilds of the parish – one guild in
particular - are beginning to function differently. “Focus is not solely directed at
fundraising and survival. It is more directed at thriving and the expansion of ministry.”
On October 2, 2022 – Saint Mary the Virgin’s Episcopal Church Women were
recommissioned as an active guild of the parish during their Sunday worship. New
officers were installed and a schedule of activities that included visitations of the parish’s
sick and shut-in’s and a health fair for the screening of high blood pressure and diabetes
was announced. The ladies of the ECW rededicated their lives to a renewed Christly
ministry as they took an active part in that day’s liturgy.
A highlight of the occasion was receiving congratulatory letters written by The Reverend
Jennifer Kenna, Province 2 Representative to the ECW’s National Board and The
Reverend Canon Ronald C. Byrd, Missioner for the Office of African Decent Ministries.
The Reverend Kenna offered the recommissioned fellowship a charge to grow and to
shape their ministries for the present and their future as she wrote, “On this first Sunday
in October, 2022, as the women of the parish recommit themselves to the diocese, the
parish and each other as a dedicated group of Episcopal Church Women, I believe that
God's Holy Spirit will be moving and leading you all forward in new and exciting ways.”
She continued, “St. Mary's ECW can take its lessons from the past as building blocks for
the future, seeking new and innovative ways to serve, while continuing to share their gifts and talents with this parish, and supporting each other as sisters in Christ.” Likewise, Canon Byrd, reminded the ladies of ECW’s purpose and of the important ministry they are called to offer, saying, “As you know, the stated purpose of the ECW is to unite the women of the church in a program of worship, study, service, and fellowship which will deepen their own spiritual lives and encourage them in grateful service in the parish, the community, the nation, and the world. I understand there is much ministry to offer in both, your parish, and your community.”
Trevor Bridgewater Jr, Sr. Warden of the parish, offered his reflections of this joyful
event saying, “St. Mary’s is not the same church we were before Irma and Maria hit. As
individual members of the congregation, the ladies of St. Mary’s have had an active part
in shaping the new direction of the parish to make us responsive to the new and present
needs of the community in these post-Irma and post COVID times. I am confident that
our ECW will work together with the Vestry and Fr. Clifton to make our unanimously
adopted vision plan for St. Mary’s a reality.”
This celebration of St. Mary’s women to the parish and community concluded on Sunday, October 16, 2022 with Ms Eloise Estridge, National Coordinator of the Child Evangelism Fellowship as guest preacher at the service.
From the Rev. Ellis Clifton, priest-in-charge of St. Mary's, Virgin Gorda, BVI, Diocese of the Virgin Islands
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