Prime Minister Davis’ Tribute to the Life of Clarence Ellis

Good day church and please be seated.

Parliamentary colleagues; 

Former Prime Ministers;

Officiant, His Grace, Bishop Neil C. Ellis;

His assistants Pastors Joel Rolle and Oral Ellis;

Other Ministers of the gospel;

Members of the bereaved family, loved ones, friends and well-wishers.

On behalf of my wife Ann-Marie and my family, and on behalf of my colleagues, I extend heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Minister Clarence Livingstone Ellis, on the sad occasion of the passing of your beloved patriarch. I further extend condolences to the officers and members of the Missionary Baptist Convention, the wider church community and the closely-knit community of Bimini.

I thank you, the bereaved family, for the opportunity to pay tribute to the life, work and times of Minister Ellis, a man of and for all seasons.

He was a giant of the faith; a man of God; a servant leader; a son of the Bimini soil – Porgy Bay to be exact; a community builder and leader; an entrepreneur; a social and political activist; a family man; a church leader and a faithful shepherd of Christ’s flock.

I met and communed with Minister Ellis during an official visit to Bimini in the aftermath of the recent and unfortunate fire here that destroyed multiple homes. The Ellis home was spared, but his neighbour was not so fortunate. 

The meeting was prophetic in a sense because several weeks before the fire, the Minister told his son, His Grace, that he and I would meet. As fate would have it, I was advised in the aftermath of the fires that he wanted to see me, and we met. It was evident that he was not as lucid as usual, and it took him a while to recognize me.

During our meeting, Minister Ellis held my hand and confidently told me that he was simply waiting to meet the Lord and go to his eternal home.

I reflected at that time on the words of the apostle Paul at the end of his life and shortly before his martyrdom. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”.

We remember Minister Ellis as a man for whom the Bible was the motto of his life – guiding his relationships, his career and his earthly ministry.

He regarded the Bible as the owner’s manual for his time on this side of eternity.

Many of us at one time or another have purchased an item that came with an owner’s manual. The manual details how to assemble and operate an item in line with its intended purpose. 

Minister Ellis applied the instructions of the Bible – his life’s manual – to accomplish his purpose. 

If we obey biblical teachings, then after we would have run our race and stayed the course, we, as did Minister Ellis near the end of his life, could also look forward to saying with confidence that we are waiting to meet our Lord and Saviour.

A significant legacy of Rev. Ellis is that he produced 4 ministers of the gospel.  I have often said that I view his son, His Grace Bishop Ellis, as a healer, a mediator, a giver and a patriot.

The positive attributes of Rev. Ellis’ children are a testament to his strength of character, integrity, spirit of accountability, and leadership. He also possessed the willingness to sternly rebuke, correct and reprove those under his care and superintendence.

Strength of character, integrity and accountability are virtues that all leaders should possess, including heads of government. When a leader fails to make tough, or unpopular decisions or fails to enforce discipline where necessary, the citizens will make those decisions for him.

So Minister Ellis, I get it. A word to the wise is always sufficient.

The Minister will be long remembered for devoting his adult life to contributing to the development of Bimini’s civic life. 

He used the pulpit as a public platform to offer advice and counsel to the Bimini community and the country’s leadership on any number of important issues affecting the body of Christ and ordinary Bahamian families.

He was a voice for the voiceless; a pillar of strength for the weak; he comforted the brokenhearted and remained a moral beacon and moral compass to all – fully committed to the principle of moral absolutes as the gold standard in all of his dealings.         

As party leader, I thank him for his social and political activism, and for his enthusiasm in supporting the progressive cause. His honour as Stalwart Councillor speaks to his commitment to our cause. 

In conclusion my brothers and sisters, Minister Clarence Livingstone Ellis served the Lord, fully appreciating that the race was not to the swiftest, but to those who endure to the end.

His life will remain a marvelous example of devoted church, community and parental leadership. He loved his God, he loved Bimini, he loved the Baptist Convention, and he loved and cherished his family.

Minister Ellis’ example of clean Godly living is worthy of emulation and celebration. Silenced by death and the grave, we who remain honour his legacy and pay tribute to his life. 

His work will continue to inspire and influence generations yet unborn. As such, death is but a comma in the sentence of life.

Minister Ellis was a man who carried out his religious office with prayerful determination, and his earthly assignment with humility and conviction. Bimini and by extension The Bahamas, are better because of his ministry.

I thank the Ellis family for your patience in sharing your patriarch with the Baptist Convention, the wider church community, and with the local community he so happily and ably served.       

Go with God Minister Ellis and receive your just and eternal reward. You ran the good race. You never fainted, nor grew weary in well doing. 

“May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest”.

May he rest in peace.