Reverend Gladstone Thompson remembers clearly his first service at New Testament Church of God.
It was a Sunday morning, he was 17 and he had never seen so many young people praising and worshipping God with such passion.
“That was a new sight for me and as a young person back then myself, almost 40 years ago, I felt so aligned with them,” Rev Thompson said.
“Thanks to this church I have gained stability in character, I’ve learnt how to love others, even those I don’t get along with or agree with, how to care for my family and be a servant to our community.”
NTCOG was introduced to the island by Ohio native J.H. Ingram in the early 1920s. On Wednesday, it will host its annual convention, bringing together believers from all seven of its branches in Bermuda,
For the convention’s 70th anniversary this year, there will be a gala banquet with the message delivered by motivational speaker and preacher Reverend Dr Cindy Trimm.
The evening’s theme, We’ve Come This Far By Faith, is based on a passage of scripture in Ephesians 3:20. Proceeds from the event will go towards payment of the church’s mortgage.
“Having recognised that we were paying, but not really making a dent in our mortgage, we knew we didn’t want that financial burden to be passed on to the next generation,” said Marlene Flynn-Carty, an administrative assistant and preacher who serves on the church council and worships at NTCOG’s St David’s branch, Glory Temple.
“It’s important we provide for our young people an atmosphere in which they can learn what it means to be a good steward and Christian and, with us making sure this mortgage is behind us, that will provide them opportunities to go out and reach their peers for the kingdom of God.
“We also want to be able to provide scholarships and support to those who desire to go off to do mission work inside, and outside, of Bermuda, and we can’t provide for them financially if we are still paying our mortgage.”
The Jamaican was attracted to the church because of its rich history and the love and warmth she found within its walls.
“During my time as a member of New Testament Church of God in Bermuda, I have served in many roles and in the youth department as a youth leader,” she said.
“Having that opportunity to be a part of something where I can see the move of God on a regular basis, is important to me.
“Growing up in Jamaica, I was raised in that kind of Pentecostal atmosphere and saw the gifts of the Holy Spirit being demonstrated by people all around me.
“So now, to get to be a part of an organisation that embraces not only the Great Commission, but also the Pentecostal gifts like healing, is really rewarding to me.”
With all the problems in the world today, the convention was a time for believers to “look for direction from God in their personal lives”, she said.
It was also an opportunity for them to “see God manifest Himself among us during that celebration and provide us with divine strategy going forward”.
James Howard, a bishop armour bearer, has been a member of the church for nearly seven years.
“What I like about this convention is it gives all seven churches an opportunity to meet other people from different locations around the island,” he said.
“We do have combined services on occasion, but we are usually so engulfed in the message we don’t get to meet and speak to other people from different churches too much. This event gives us an opportunity to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and is a great time of empowerment.”
Tickets to the gala at Fairmont Southampton are $150. Call Mr Thompson on 535-0713 or Mrs Flynn-Carty, in the evenings, on 704-1045.