EDITOR, The Tribune.
On Thursday, 3rd September, 2020, Pastor Hugh Roach transitioned into eternity.
I was first introduced to Pastor Roach as a family friend. My grandmother, Georgiana K. Symonette, was a Seventh-Day Adventist. Her children ensured that we grandchildren understood the importance of our Adventist roots.
Pastor Roach exemplifies Matthew 5v16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. I think that he is a Bahamian icon and a Christian icon. He was a gentle man.
Returning to The Bahamas after obtaining his Master’s degree, he constantly pursued knowledge and excellence. He firmly believed that education was a most powerful tool of empowerment. It would assure thinking skills, character development and positive change in citizens and societies. Seventh-Day Adventists have a noble record of commitment to education in The Bahamas. Many Bahamian leaders are graduates of Bahamas Academy, established in 1912, of which he was a past Principal.
Pastor Roach was also committed to Pathfinders, another Seventh-Day Adventist organization, that has a long record of youth development. I recall being told, during the 2002-2007 term in Parliament, that then there were no Seventh-Day Adventists incarcerated at the Department of Corrections. Pathfinders was credited for guiding youth so that they did not embark on the path to jail. Pastor Roach gave his classic smile, when I mentioned this to him. He humbly said, “to God be the glory”.
We also recall his service as President of the Bahamas Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists and on the National Drug Council. He was held in high esteem nationally and internationally.
I hold up his tenure as Chaplain of the House of Assembly. He always had just the right message. Always arriving early, he spoke gently and quietly to everyone. He usually read a passage from the Bible. Then, forthrightly, he spoke truth to power. He praised and he scolded, while encouraging every member to live up to God’s expectations of people who held such positions. It was not unusual to have a member say to another, “wow, we’ve been so nicely disciplined”. Simply put, he wanted all leaders to “let their light shine before others”.
Every picture that I have seen of Pastor Roach shows a man with a quiet smile and kind eyes. He was truly a Pastor and encourager who knew how to connect with people. When speaking with him, the conversation inevitably turned away from him and to the person with whom he was speaking, their work and family, frequently referring to family members by name.
As we plan for a post COVID-19 Bahamas, we can hold up Pastor Roach as an example of how to live at all times.
Thank you, Mrs. Roach, his beloved wife and righthand for over 60 years, and his family, for allowing him, so completely, to serve The Bahamas and the world.
May he rest in peace.
September 7, 2020