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Bermuda - Mission Possible (Full Story)Coming soon - photos
On May 29th, Dr Will Williams, AFP President, accompanied by his wife, Nancy, and AFP Executive Secretary, Mary Hilton and her husband Bob, traveled to Bermuda to participate in an 11 day mission in Pembroke Parish. Missioner and Storyteller for Mission Possible was The Rt. Rev. Charles Duvall, retired Bishop of the Diocese of the Gulf Coast and speaker and Bible Study leader at past AFP International Conferences.
In the opening Eucharist of the mission, held on Accension Day, held at St Johns Church, Bishop Duvall challenged us all to "broaden our horizons" beyond our local parishes, reaching out to those outside the church and carrying Gods saving word to them. Mary set up the AFP Book Table in the Narthex of the church to display information about AFP and to make available many of the resources of the AFP Bookshelf.
On Friday, Dr. Williams, Mary Hilton and Bob Hilton met with The Rt. Rev. Ewen Ratteray, Bishop of Bermuda, and Archdeacon Arnold Hollis, a long time (some 20 plus years) supporter of AFP, to discuss Bermuda organizing a national AFP council. The Bishop was very cordial and welcomed this effort.
Saturday afternoon was spent at the mission church of St Augustine in an open air jazz vespers. (St. Augustines is one of 2 daughter churches sponsored by the church of St. John.) Local jazz artists, instrumentalists and vocalists alike, offered their time and talents, as we celebrated. Bishop Duvall shared the story of the transfiguration, encouraging those in attendance to carry Gods word out into the surrounding community much as Jesus admonished Peter and John not to stay on the mountain top, building tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, but to go down off the mountain, to the people. It was, indeed, joyous to see many people who were not members of St Augustines in attendance. Also, a number of local residents came out on the porches and balconies of their apartments to listen. Many seeds were sown for the Lord. Mary carried the AFP Bookshelt and set it up on a wall and on the lawn adjacent to church. (See photo of a participant relaxing under the tree and perusing the books.)
On Saturday evening there was a celebration banquet honoring 9 long time servants of the Lord from the churches of Pembroke Parish. Bishop Duvall shared an Introduction to Storytelling, followed by the story of Ruth and Naomi, How To Treat Your Mother-in-Law. Many people enjoyed perusing the AFP Bookshelf.
On Sunday Bishop Duvall preached at 2 services at St Johns, one at St Augustines and one at St Monicas. Many of the members of St Johns again enjoyed the AFP Bookshelf. Mary and Bobs hosts, Deb and Ray Bell, took them down to the old dockyards at the west end of Bermuda where they all enjoyed a pops concert in the open air a most enjoyable and relaxing afternoon and evening.
On Monday afternoon, Archdeacon Arnold Hollis and his wife, Jan, took Mary, Bob and the AFP Bookshelf to meet with the people of St. Peters Anglican Church in St. Georges Parish (the west end of Bermuda). After a lovely dinner with the wardens of St Peters and Fr. David Steele, we were pleased to share the work of AFP with the people of St Peters. Dating back to 1612, this is the oldest Anglican Church still operating in the western hemisphere. Archdeacon Hollis shared with the group first, telling of his experiences with AFP since he first came to an AFP Conference in 1984. After short presentations by Mary and Bob, a question and answer session followed. After the attendees finished perusing the wares of AFP Bookshelf, Fr. Steele gave us a guided tour of the church.
Tuesday morning, at the invitation of Canon Keith Wassall, Residentiary Dean of the Cathedral, Mary and Bob carried the AFP Bookshelf to the Cathedral to be available to the tourists and other people who toured the Cathedral through mid-afternoon. Tuesday evening found us back at St Johns for an evening of storytelling by Bishop Duvall, where we learned that "Shofars are hard to blow and walls are hard to knock down with spears, but with God, anything is possible". (Attendees at the AFP Conference in Orlando will remember this story.)
Wednesday late morning found the AFP Bookshelf back at St Johns for an 11am Eucharist, followed by a more informal celebration of singing and storytelling for those who couldnt attend the evening activities. In late afternoon, Archdeacon Hollis took Mary, Bob and the AFP Bookshelf to his church, St. James, in Sandys Parish, the west end of the island of Bermuda. After a very nice dinner in the rectory, approximately 20 members of St. James came for a time of sharing of AFP experiences and to learn more of AFP. Several in attendance have been to a number of AFP Conferences with the Archdeacon.
Thursday evening found the AFP Bookshelf back at St. Johns for a major storytelling and teaching by Bishop Duvall in a prayer and praise worship setting.
Friday afternoon and evening found the mission breaking new ground in a very exciting way. The mission came to the church of St Monica, the second daughter church of St. Johns church. St. Monicas is in a area that has been taken over by drug dealers and the like. Instead of meeting and celebrating in the church, the mission event was held outside. The street was closed to automobile traffic as we set up the AFP Bookshelf and other tables in the street. (This didnt keep out the motorbikes.) The event was well attended and young children came out as did many of the local residents where Bishop Duvall shared the "Birth Narratives", liturgical dance groups danced, and a local recording artist of Christian Jazz sang. It was a joyful occasion of celebration in the Lord and the beginning of reclaiming this area from drugs and other criminal activity and, hopefully, bringing many back to the Lord or to the Lord for the first time.
On Sunday, the Feast of the Pentecost was celebrated at the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Approximately 1000 members from all of the churches of the diocese came together for a wonderful worship service. Bishop Duvall preached as Bishop Ratteray, assisted by all the clergy of the diocese, celebrated the Eucharist. Once again the AFP Bookshelf was in the Cathedral and many AFP brochures were distributed.
Sunday evening found us (and the AFP Bookshelf) back at St Johns for the final event of the mission. A lady from another church summed up this celebration in a single word, "WOW". Bishop Duvall shared stories to illustrate how God prepares us, calls us and then gives us opportunities to respond to that call. The service concluded with an altar call.
The Lord is truly doing exciting things in Bermuda!
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