Christopher Famous

Bridging religious divides

  • Unity: Nicholas Dill, Bishop of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, right, stands with Reverend Jermaine Tucker and his fiancée Konnie Lopez Garcia
  • All together: the laying of hands on Rev Jermaine Tucker

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” — Psalm 133

They say that confession is good for the soul. So today is as good a day for some confession as it gets.

It is not often enough that I attend church.

Sadly, most of the times that I do attend church, it is for funeral services of a friend, family member or one of our fellow Bermudians.

So, when I received an invite to a special church service, something leapt out to me that there was no way that this event would pass me by.

On June 29, 2018, the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, more commonly known simply as The Cathedral, served as the venue for an auspicious and unique occasion.

It was not a going home service for someone who had passed. Neither was it the scene of a non-royal wedding.

What was to take place was something mirroring a cross pollination of; customs, demographics and dare we say, denominations.

The occasion was the ordination of Reverend Jermaine Tucker as a priest in the Anglican faith.

Some may rightly or wrongly ask: “Well, what is the big deal about that?”

To which several answers can be given. The first answer would be this, there has been a declining number of Bermudians studying to attain the right to stand in a pulpit. So, whenever we have a chance to celebrate that, we must.

The second and perhaps most important answer would be this, anyone who knows Jermaine, or as he is now called, Reverend Tucker, will know that he was destined to become a man not only of the cloth but of the people.

So again, celebrate we must and celebrate we did. In fact, there were moments, too numerous to mention, that I had to wonder if I was inside of the citadel of the Church of England.

Picture this if you will; the order of service was an eclectic mixture of Anglican rites and some of the most colourful and vibrant samplings of offerings from other faiths.

Just as importantly, the clergy in attendance was drawn from almost every denomination in Bermuda.

It would be near impossible for me to give a complete rundown, so here are a few samples; liturgical dancers from Richard Allen AME, a soloist from Trinity Church, poetry from Melodye Van Putten, Caribbean steel pan and a heavenly a cappella rendition from Larita Cartwright.

Listening to Larita could lead anyone to; firstly, have goose bumps and secondly, believe that they had made it into the Pearly Gates.

Perhaps, one of the most memorable moments was when all the clergy present formed a circle and laid hands not just on Jermaine, but on each other. Far too often we do not see enough unity between preachers and yes, politicians.

So, to see the coming together of persons of different doctrines and faiths to celebrate one of our very own was a miracle indeed.

In typical Bermuda fashion, after the official service, there was the service after the service. Once again, we saw a mingling of a cross-section of Bermuda, conversing about a potpourri of topics.

There was a hearty sampling of finger foods and liquid refreshments. I always find myself having to remember that the Anglican Church is well stocked with the finest selections of both white and red wines.

After all Jesus did turn water to wine, did he not?

Now, back to confession time. As Bermudians we pride ourselves as being a Christian community with a wide range of faiths and denominations.

Unfortunately, if we be honest with ourselves and each other, we often, far too often, allow ourselves to get stuck in silos and fall into the trap of judging each other by whichever denomination we subscribe to.

Since recorded time, countless wars and millions of lives have been lost around the globe based primarily on religious ideology.

Whether it be Jews versus Muslims, Protestants versus Catholics or Sikh versus Hindu, as humans we have committed some of the worst atrocities, all in the name of the denomination or faith that we serve.

That is the undeniable truth.

So, today I wish to publicly thank Reverend Jermaine Tucker for putting together a service that was inclusive versus exclusive. It truly set a tone for the spiritual leadership of this island home of ours to continue to grow upon.

In retrospect, it should come as no surprise. After all, Jermaine, like countless other revolutionary leaders, was raised in the hallowed halls of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.