St Barnabas’ at 175, highlights ‘alternative’ care for seniors, year of celebration
St Barnabas’ Anglican Church just launched its year-long 175th anniversary celebrations – by encouraging the nation to adopt its 30-year-old model of community care for senior citizens as an affordable alternative to institutionalised care or neglect.
“We want to encourage faith communities to be involved in this aspect of ministry,” St Barnabas’ rector, Reverend Mark Harewood, told journalists gathered in the church’s parish centre as he launched the landmark festival of an Anglican community following in the biblical footsteps of its patron saint with “faith in action“.
The Senior Citizens Day Care Centre at St. Barnabas offers community-based day care for seniors of all faiths, all walks of life and all areas of Barbados.
Since its opening on September 11th 1983 by then rector Reverend Bernard Griffith, families have found the St Michael location just off the junction of ABC Highway and Highway 5 a convenient stop on their daily commute for their loved ones to spend a day of activities and meals in fellowship with other seniors.
But nearly two generations later, despite an ever-aging Barbadian population, widespread neglect of the elderly and heavy demand on hospitals, St Barnabas’ stands alone in the nation in offering community-based elderly day care – a fact that Reverend Harewood is keen to see changed.
“We make an appeal to any persons out there, NGOs, business houses… to support not only the senior citizens day care centre here but to start one up in another area of this island. I think that would be a good development for our country,” Reverend Harewood said.
The centre then became not only the latest chapter in a long history of community action by the Anglican Diocese of Barbados but fulfills the very mission of the Apostle Barnabas, who joined Paul as the earliest missionaries building the Christian Church. By his acts, Barnabas quickly became known as a helper and encourager of others, earning the name Son of Encouragement.
Now through this centre – among many other areas of outreach and action – St Barnabas’ Church is set to mark the 30th anniversary in October of living out its Barnabas-like mission statement as a “community of ordinary people, committed to love and service to God and our neighbours, and to being ambassadors for Christ”.
Families pay five dollars a day for their elderly relatives to spend the day in the care and companionship of around three dozen clients, staff and volunteers, including a nurse. The centre is supported solely by the church and its members, largely through its annual May Day fair and flea market, with no business support or government subvention.
“We would hope also from this launch, as we encourage other persons to be involved in this ministry, that we may get some partners to help us,” Reverend Harewood told journalists, as he urged the wider community’s role in elderly day care.
Father Mark said it was personally satisfying for him to see some clients who, after being initially reluctant to move away from familiar home environments, soon look forward to coming to a “home away from home“.
“[Some clients] still put on their clothes to get ready for their time here,” he added.
Despite the nominal five-dollar-a-day cost to families, Father Mark said, the centre still needs to raise funds to offset its costs.
In addition to the appeal, the church is seeking to raise funds from a gala evening of entertainment on June 13, during the church’s festival week, at the neighbouring Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
‘Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing’ is being presented by the choirs of St Barnabas in association with the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, the Cecilian Chorale, the Clarion Singers and the St Barnabas Dance Group Dancers. Also scheduled to perform are the Harrison College String Quartet and the talented soprano Gaye Gajadhar.
The Anglican priest addressed journalists in the church’s parish centre, itself the earliest example of St Barnabas’ long history of community action as a home to over a century of education, beginning in the first decade after the church’s cornerstone being laid by Barbados’s first Anglican Bishop, Right Reverend William Hart Coleridge.
St Barnabas Elementary School ran from 1848 to 1954, when its operations were taken over by the state with the creation of the nearby Pine Primary School.
That school now bears the name of one of the elementary school’s teachers and a prominent parishioner, Grantley Prescod, the designer of the national flag.