By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
TWO well-known religious leaders were declared Jones Communications’ Persons of the Year 2018 for significant contributions to their churches and the Bahamas.
Reverend Dr Timothy Stewart, pastor of the historic Bethel Baptist Church, and Dr Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the Inter-America Division of Seventh-Day Adventists, received the awards at JCN’s Media Centre on Friday.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, who spoke during the event, praised the men for their work, which he said supported the overall development of the country.
Dr Minnis was JCN’s Person of the Year 2017.
“Rev Dr Timothy Stewart is the pastor of the historic Bethel Baptist Church on Meeting Street. Bethel Baptist Church holds the distinction of being the oldest Baptist church in the Bahamas,” Dr Minnis told those gathered.
“As one historian noted for over two centuries it has anchored the spiritual life of this segment of the Over-the-Hill community.”
Dr Minnis said for four decades Rev Stewart served as pastor and his church played an integral part in the fight for majority rule.
“Rev Dr Stewart has preserved the trailblazing that was first formed by Samuel Scriven and Prince William in 1790 as Bethel’s leading house. This year, Rev Dr Stewart will serve as president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in the US, which has an estimated membership of 2.5 million. A statement announcing this year’s JCN person of the year describes Dr Stewart as an inspiration to clergymen and members of the community of faith and the Americas,” he said.
As for Dr Johnson, the prime minister said he is a celebrated outstanding preacher.
“Dr Johnson, a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor was recently installed as the first pastor from an English speaking territory to become executive secretary of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-Day Adventist churches.
“The division has a membership of more than three million and oversees the church’s work in 42 countries. Dr Johnson has served in ministry for many years (and) he is celebrated for an outstanding preaching ministry,” he said.
“In 2016 Dr Johnson was the first Seventh-Day Adventist minister to receive the CMG medal in The Bahamas.”
Dr Minnis said awards like this ensure that the contribution of leaders does not fade from national memory; they also support a strong sense of community and national pride.
He further thanked JCN publisher Wendell Jones for recognising the people who make a difference.