By FELICITY DARVILLE
Canon Peter Scott, rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church, has made a clarion call for old members of the church who may not have visited in a while to return and celebrate the institution's 41st anniversary.
On Sunday, June 30, Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd, former rector at Holy Cross, will join the hundreds who are expected to gather at the church for Back to Holy Cross Day. After the 9am service, giving God thanks that the church is still going strong, members will gather in the parish hall for a family luncheon.
A number of necessary upgrades and renovations has given Holy Cross Anglican Church a facelift in time for its anniversary celebrations. The myriad of repairs and additions have stabilised the building to continue serving church members for many years to come.
The project, launched by the newest priest to lead the Holy Cross flock, Canon Peter Scott, included the installation of a brand new organ, replacing a decades-old instrument that served the church well, but had its time. Outgoing priest, Canon Norman Lightbourne, led the first fundraiser for the organ purchase. Canon Scott, who took over in September 2018, led the church in fundraising efforts that brought in the remaining funds for the organ as well as all the money needed to complete the renovation project. Fundraising included Thanksgiving day last November, and the first annual Holy Cross Fair and Raffle held this February.
The facelift represents a milestone in the life of the church. Back in 1966, Dean Foster Pestaina was given the mission of starting a new church community in eastern New Providence. Services started right on Father Pestaina's porch at his Robinson Road home. Two years later, the church acquired its current property in Highbury Park through a grant, and services were held in the building that now serves as the church's parish hall. When Canon Neil Roach became priest of Holy Cross in 1971, he came with a new vision for the church building.
That vision came to fruition seven years later when, on June 26, 1978, the new church was dedicated. Father Roach, along with the vestry, envisioned a design that was hailed for its uniqueness. From an aerial view, the shape of the cross is apparent, and hence the current home of Holy Cross was born. For a portion of Father Roach's tenure, Father Scott served as the youth pastor, and so he was not a new face to Holy Cross members when he returned last year. He served from 1992 to 1997, and today many of the young people he guided are now adults with children of their own, still attending the church they grew up in.
Canon Scott, who says he is building on the good works of his predecessors, considers investing in the building as necessary: "If the house of God looks shabby, how can you invite people to come in? It's like our personal homes; if we want people to visit, we make sure house is in good shape. We clean and tidy up… so we are tidying up. Our next focus will be on building up the ministry. Now that we have taken care of the building, we can take care of people. Charity begins at home and ends abroad."
Building improvements included: renovating the choir loft to fit the new organ; replacing decades-old windows with hurricane impact windows; replacing all the old chandeliers with new LED lighting; the building has been treated from termites; the walkways and the roof have been repaired, and numerous structural cracks have been repaired.
In its outreach ministry, Holy Cross has already donated a six-burner industrial stove to A&A home for the aged in Pinewood Gardens, and is currently helping an elderly lady in Nassau Village with home repairs. In pastoral care, Canon Scott says the church will be "taking care of its own, including members who face illness, are grieving, or who may be having family or other issues.
As those who once called the church home but may have moved on or away, they are being called back home. Canon Scott is also inviting new guests to come in and experience the love of the Holy Cross family. Church groups include the Anglican Church men and women; an extensive youth ministry (led by youth priest Travis Fernander) which allows a young person to deliver the sermon each youth Sunday; a vibrant choir ministry; altar guild; junior and senior praise teams; liturgical dance group, and children's Cherub choir among others.