“Don’t Get Settled Worshipping Under a Tent”
Bishop Anne Henning Byfield,
Presiding Bishop 16th Episcopal District
Ephesians 3:20, “Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,” is a verse that defines the Reverend Lisa Blake-Williams.
The Rev. Blake-Williams has been the pastor of Hickman AME Church, Woodlands, Grenada, since 2010 and shepherded the congregation through the building of a new edifice after worshipping 12 years under a tent. On October 16, 2016, Bishop Anne Henning Byfield dedicated the new church to the glory of God.
Hickman AME Church was started in 1974 and is named for Bishop Ernest Lawrence Hickman, the 73rd elected and consecrated bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Grenada is a part of the Windward Islands Annual Conference which also contains Barbados and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Presiding Elder Wayne Anthony, D.Min, is the presiding elder of the Trinidad and Tobago/Grenada Presiding Elder District and provided supportive leadership in Hickman’s completion.
This 12-year sojourn began with the destruction of the former edifice by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004—the most devastating storm to impact Grenada in decades. Despite losing their building, the congregation never stopped worshipping—even though it meant they met outdoors. A tent was eventually donated to them through the giving initiative of Bishop Adam J. Richardson; Dr. James C. Wade, Executive Director, AME Church Growth and Development; Dr. George Flowers, Executive Director, AME Church Global Witness and Missions; and several anonymous donors.
When the Rev. Blake-Williams was appointed to the charge in 2010, she saw an immediate need to build. This was confirmed, she said, “When the tent began to fray and tear. Clearly, the tent had served its purpose.” Moreover, she said, “I did not want the congregation to get settled into worshipping under a tent.” The congregation worked for six years to raise the necessary funds and then built the beginning parts of the structure. After a financial gift from Bishop John White and the 16th District, they had enough money to complete the building. The new church building includes a sanctuary, and two additional rooms, which will serve as a kitchen and an office/pastor’s study.
Trinidadian AME Pastors Roy Francis and David Bigford and other community ministers and friends joined the 25 members in the celebration. The Rev. Bigford is Chair of the Windward Island Annual Conference Board of Trustees. Brother Jakim Williams, a trustee, presented the keys to the church. This was followed by the processional that included all officers and members and a rousing worship service. Bishop Henning Byfield preached, “Seize the Opportunity, Don’t Stop Now” with one person rededicating their life to the Lord.
General Officer John Thomas, Editor of The Christian Recorder, sent a framed picture and lapel pins of the Richard Allen Postage Stamp; Bishop Henning Byfield presented the church with books, pamphlets, teaching materials, and a $1000 US donation from Supervisor Ainsley Byfield and herself.
In the midst of challenges in the 16th District with the status of our brothers and sisters in Haiti, the dedication of Hickman AME Church serves to remind us that God is exceedingly abundantly able to do more than we ask or think according to the power that worketh within. Congratulations to the Rev. Blake-Williams and Hickman AME Church.