Tag Archives: Arouca

Holy Saturday


One Easter Saturday during my ministry in Trinidad, I conducted an evening service at our little church in Arouca (some 15 miles from Port of Spain).

As befitted the solemnity and seriousness of the day, the theme was muted and the closing hymn was “Abide With Me” – abide with me, fast falls the eventide,the darkness deepens…

….and then it was off home, driving through the hot and humid night…….. to a power cut (an electrical outage, as it was known there). Darkness everywhere and no power (no light,no air conditioning, and burglar alarms going off everywhere; and,of course, no chance of a shower).

Now, sometimes I can be a lazy fellow and this time, typically, I hadn’t prepared my sermon for Easter Day – and I was due back at Arouca for a sunrise service at dawn. And there was no light to see what I was doing. My electric typewriter, anyhow, was as useful as the proverbial ash-tray on a motor bike

It was to be a long, hot, uncomfortable night.

But then – about four in the morning – the lights flickered, the a/c came on.

Power, Light, new Hope – EASTER!

Sermon written, cuppas consumed, showered and dressed – eastward back toward Arouca and a rising sun

And the opening hymn, sung with gusto –

“Blest morning, whose first dawning rays

Beheld the Son of God

Arise triumphant from the grave

And leave his dark abode”


….. and then the lights went off again!


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Return (after 33 years) to my old Church (the Barrow Memorial) in Arouca, Trinidad

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February 19, 2016 · 15:03

Places where I’ve ministered 2 (“daughter” churches)

Sangre Grande

Sangre Grande (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Arouca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Arouca Church, Trinidad

Sangre Grande, Trinidad (no photograph)


St Clement’s, Wallyford (near Musselburgh).

St. John’s, Whitecraig (near Musselburgh) – no photograph)

 Wallyford,  by 2000 bore little resemblance to the mining village of 1945. The miners’ rows, brickworks and pitheads that dominated post-war Wallyford have been replaced by rows of modern housing and an industrial estate. The proximity of Wallyford to Edinburgh made it ideal for housing expansion yet in the 1980s it was one of the poorest of all East Lothian’s communities. The turning point came when the long-awaited Musselburgh by-pass opened in 1986, making Wallyford an appealing place for the developers.

Whitecraig is a smaller settlement that again grew on the back of the mining industry; it is situated amongst prime agricultural land, much of it designated as green belt. Apart from a few developments on infill land in the 1980s, the village itself has remained largely within its 1945 boundaries.

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Blessings 2 – the Arouca Church Bell

The Meenister’s Log

The bell had been forged in Scotland, taken to Canada and eventually ended up in Arouca in Trinidad.

It had lain disusused for many years, but now it was to be housed in its own belfry: in a free standing scaffolding-like tower just outside the front door of the Barrow Memorial Church.



It was their pride and joy. And I was asked to dedicate it.

Standing amid a large group of members and friends, beneath the tower, with my Book of Common Order opened at the right place, I started to read the appropriate words.

Standing beside me was the caretaker.  She was a wee totally toothless woman who never wore her dentures, had a man’s “bunnet” perched on her head and “baffies” on her feet.  She was what we’d charitably call “a character”.

She was intensely proud of her church and of this wonderful bell, so much so that when I had just said “And we dedicate this bell….” and before I’d got to “to the glory of Almighty God”, she grabbed the rope and started pulling on it with the strength of ten men”

The noise was literally deafening, and at the service which followed in the church building I felt my head vibrating and couldn’t even hear what I was saying myself.

I went back to the home of one of my elders following the service, but turned down his kind offer of “one for the road”

It was, of course, a dram of…………Bells

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The Meenister’s Log

There’s a lovely prayer: “journeying mercies” – it was used by Trinidadians to wish someone a safe journey – like “Godspeed”.

I was often asked to bless new cars when I lived in Trinidad.  Rather than doing this exactly to the letter, I tended to ask a blessing upon the driver instead: that he/she would be safe behind the wheel, that they would be careful and courteous drivers…. and that indeed they would always have journeying mercies.

Obviously, the Almighty turned a bit of a deaf ear to these intercessions, as the Trinis drive like Lewis Hamilton on speed (sic), totally ignoring all rules of the road.

(Which brings me to my dear wife, the wonderfully named Ramraj Parmararsingh (whom I noticed from the Trinidad Guardian died in January of this year – 2012), and the church car.

Mr Singh was a driving instructor, but, having been offered a very good price for his car – the tool of his trade – he sold it… only to discover that there was a three month waiting list to get a new one.

So, with permission and appropriate insurance – and “journeying mercies” of course, they set off on their first lesson

Helen appeared back at our house in about half and hour and very calmly announced that the car was a near write-off; she’d crashed it into a wall.

Luckily, no one was injured – but neither Mr Singh nor myself had any transport for the next couple of months).


Anyhow, there’s a lovely little church in Trinidad at a place called Arouca.  One felt blessed to get there in one piece, having negotiated fifteen miles of the Churchill- Roosevelt Highway from Port of Spain.  Heidbangers to the left,; heidbangers to the right – what highway code?  Overtake on whichever sided gives you the opportunity to put the foot down.

Maybe my prayers did work, as they all thought that they were protected by the Almighty!)

Arouca’s church was only two years old when I arrived on the Island.  It had been a labour of love to build a replacement for an older structure which had long been demolished (by one of my “blessed” drivers?)

The little congregation was rightly proud of its achievement, and set about with manic zeal to improve the amenities of their bloved place of worship.

It seemed to be every second week that I was asked to be blessing or dedicating a new organ, a P.A.system, even a tarmac car park (look out!  here’s another driver roaring into the car park at 70 miles an hour!)

But the best was yet to come – the blessing of the BELL

And that story will appear in the next post on


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