Thank you very much moderator and good evening church.
As I always emphatically state from the onset when I am among the saints: “I come in peace with a purpose”.
Further, as people of faith, notwithstanding our challenges personally and nationally where we are beset by evil on all sides, we remain confident in and stand firm on the infallible word of God for He is our refuge in the time of storm and indeed a promise keeper.
General Superintendent Dr. Carrington S. Pinder;
First Lady Rev. Sabrina Pinder;
Other ministers of the gospel;
Executives of the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society.
On behalf of my cabinet, parliamentary colleagues, the people of The Bahamas and on my own behalf, I bring warmest greetings, hearty congratulations and best wishes to the leadership, the officers and members of the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society Bahamas on the occasion of your 92nd Annual General Conference.
The historical records show that almost two hundred years ago, the founding fathers of this historic church, former slaves, answered the divine and clarion call for liberation with the response, “LORD, SEND ME”.
In that epic and glorious march to Majority Rule during the turbulent 1960’s when the members of the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society were asked to take principled stand on social justice, the resounding response was, “LORD, SEND ME”.
In 2023 when the Bahamian family is under attack; when the level of violence against our women and girls are unacceptably high; and we need a sobering message from the Almighty, what did the fearless prayer warriors of Saint John’s Native Baptist Society say?
They said in a loud voice, “LORD, SEND ME”.
In the supporting scriptural text, the Old Testament book of Isaiah 6: 1-8, I submit to the delegates that the experience of the leaders of this Native Baptist Society mirrors that of the ancient prophet Isaiah in times of crisis that required bold action, a new direction and a sobering word from God.
Bishop Pinder, I am sure there may have been many times where you saw the fullness of the glory of God and were given specific messages and assignments for the people of God and you said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…”
Like Isaiah, you were obedient to the call of God just as others before you were obedient, even though they felt unworthy.
Your obedience and faithfulness in carrying out the divine decree in God’s spiritual vineyard has resulted in the establishment of some 60 churches throughout these islands and a legacy of work that has transformed countless lives and changed the course of Bahamian history forever.
With 200 years of service in evangelism, missions, Christian education, Church leadership and community outreach, the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society is a living example that the race is not for the swiftest, but to those who endure unto the end.
This epic journey was not a bed of roses, but you overcame trials, tribulations, setbacks and multiple tests of your faith because you looked faithfully to God for strength;
You waited patiently on the Lord; laying aside every besetting weight and sin because you knew that the battle was not yours, but the Lord’s.
In support of the theme of your Annual General Conference to build a more perfect Saint John’s Native Baptist Society and country through obedience and faith, I offer this august body of believers encouragement and commendation.
I commend this society’s contribution to national development and affirm this government’s full support for the work of the church community in the public affairs of this country.
To Rev. Dr. Carrington Pinder, Pastor of The St. John’s Native Baptist Cathedral and Bishop and General Superintendent of The St. John’s Native Baptist Society, under your divine leadership this society has remained faithful and obedient to the divine decree –The Great Commission – to go ye into all the world and preach the gospel – bringing hope to the downtrodden, assisting the poor, strengthening the weak, healing the sick, ministering to the shut in, protecting the widow and comforting the broken hearted.
This is indeed the primary work of the church.
Your great works have helped to build this nation by influencing our national sensibilities and shaping our Christian values.
Continue to build up the common life as you continuously seek the kingdom of God through much prayer and fasting.
I also encourage you Dr. Pinder to continue to speak truth to power in offering public counsel, guidance and Godly advice to both the country’s leadership and the citizenry on any number of important national issues that affect the daily lives of our people.
Last but not least, I note the significant leadership roles that women continue to play in the work of this society and I celebrate the virtuousness and commend the determined leadership of Rev. Sabrina Pinder.
To paraphrase the former United States First Lady, Michelle Obama – a country cannot realize its full potential if it denies the input and full participation of half of its citizens (meaning women).
This principle applies to any organization, including the church.
I wish the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society every success as its members go into Conference to chart the course for the next 92 years of spiritual growth, kingdom building and national development.
May your deliberations and exchange of ideas remain free of confusion, but grounded in wisdom, truth, brotherly and sisterly love and in a spirit of mutual respect.
On behalf of my wife, Ann-Marie, the government and people of The Bahamas, I congratulate the Saint John’s Native Baptist Society on the occasion of its 92nd Annual General Conference as you continue to answer every divine call of God with, “LORD, SEND ME”.
May Almighty God continue to bestow His richest blessings on the good work of the Saint John’s Native Society and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Thank you and good evening.