Remarks by Hon. Philip E. Davis, Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
at the State-Recognised Funeral of Rev. Charles Wellington Saunders, CM, CBE, JP
Salem Union Baptist Church
New Providence, The Bahamas
Thursday, 10th February 2022
It is my painful duty to speak on this occasion, which gives me the opportunity to offer condolences to the family of Rev. Dr. Charles W. Saunders on behalf of the Government and People of The Bahamas, on my own behalf, and on behalf of my wife, Ann Marie and our children.
I offer these condolences to Rev. Saunders’ wife Victoria, his children Byron, Emmitt, and Cypreanna, his grandchildren, and to his relatives – specifically those hailing from the settlements of Moss Town, Hermitage, and Mount Thompson in Exuma.
To the Bahamas Baptist community at large and particularly to the community of Salem, this historic church – you have lost a Commander-in-Chief. Condolences, therefore, extend to you.
This great loss for the Church leaves a powerful lesson from Rev. Saunders for all of us. Mentorship is essential. You need to look no further than Salem to understand that even while he lived, he ensured that he raised a crop of preachers and teachers. One of them is the capable and charismatic fourth pastor, represented today in the person of Rev. Heuter Rolle.
Cat Islanders like to sing “Whose Gonna Fill Those Shoes?” Rev. Saunders ensured that this was not a question that needed to be asked. That’s leadership. That’s forward-thinking and planning. That’s humility.
Rev. Saunders was a bold warrior for Christ, a refined gentleman, and a faithful shepherd who served his flock with compassion, diligence and superintending commitment. On my part, I am grateful to have known him.
Brothers and Sisters:
The real challenge for too many of us is that we are afraid to speak and to do so from a position of principle, without distinction and without fear of those in power or perceived to be in power.
Dr. Saunders exercised that right, fully. Because of it, he enjoyed enduring respect from all facets of society.
He exercised freedom of expression liberally, using it to clearly articulate his stance on issues concerning the church and those that related to national policy.
Notwithstanding what others may have thought, he always spoke and acted from a position of principle. He was extraordinarily committed to mediation – always seeking the path of peace while promoting dialogue and national cohesion.
His faith in God caused him to have an enduring faith in his country and in his people. He challenged all of us to readopt a merit-based culture that demands hard work and perseverance.
While acknowledging the importance of education, he did not believe that everyone was designed to pass exams and that practical skills are important.
In his words, “Bahamians need to support their own more than we do and we must appreciate that we have among us the best and the brightest of the world.” I agree.
You know, politicians are often the subject of criticism, and you take that as it comes. You understand that many of those that level criticism are – so to say – on the other side.
Rev. Dr. Saunders – this great pastor, administrator, and teacher – without the trappings of politics, invariably and positively influenced the political landscape.
Every sermon that he preached whether it was from this place or another, his reminder was that our conduct in respect of public affairs and management of public resources ought to guarantee the realisation of an ordered society.
These principles require governance that is essentially free of abuse and corruption with full regard for the rule of law. His were sermons that took into account that Christians were citizens with a higher responsibility for the development of our Bahamas.
With his passing, we have lost one of The Bahamas’ finest patriots. I am honoured, therefore, to give this final salute to Rev. Dr. Charles Wellington Saunders, a pillar in the Baptist community, a veteran compassionate educator, unwavering disciplinarian, an uncompromised public servant, and “a steadfast soldier in God’s army”.
Farewell, Rev. The Bahamas is grateful that you walked among us.
May the Angels lead him into paradise; may the martyrs greet him and lead him into the holy city, Jerusalem. May his soul rest in peace and rise in resplendent glory.