Tag Archives: Grenada

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Grenada, West Indies

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This is remarkable: a friend from Dumfries was on holiday in Grenada and popped into St.Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – for some reason, he looked through the Baptismal Record…. and discovered my signature!  I had been seconded there a couple of times in the early 1980s   It’s a cliché but what a small world!

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Grenada 2

The Meenister’s Log

During my second trip to Communist-controlled Grenada as a locum, I was asked to conduct a funeral service for a young man who had been a volunteer soldier in Comrade Maurice Bishop’s militia.

The service was held in a small church in the hinterland of the Island.

Fools rush in…… in the Eulogy, I mentioned the liberating power of the Gospel message and the freedom of the Kingdom – Christ frees even those in thrall to earthly oppressive regimes (or words to that effect)

Now,standing down one side of the Church were half a dozen or so mean looking guys in camouflage fatigues, each one with a rifle slung over his shoulder (comrades, I guessed, of their late friend and colleague).

Then one of them, staring at me intently for a couple of minutes, as I waffled on about liberty, got out a camera and took a flash photograph of me.

Nothing untoward happened thereafter, and in a few days I was ready to fly back to Trinidad where I was based.

I checked in at the airport, showed my passport and ticket and temporary work-permit, then paid the departure tax of a few dollars.

While waiting in the departure area for the announcement for embarkation, I noticed the armed security guard looking at whatever form it was that I’d handed over, then to me, then back to the documentation. Without a smile, he beckoned me -ordered me – to come over to his desk.

“It is Reverend Strachan?” he asked.

“Oh dear, here comes the jail” thought I

“And you’ve been working in Grenada for these last two weeks?”

Gulp, “Yes”

“Yes, indeed, I have the chits”  (I thought I was going to have something similar – but spelled slightly differently)

And then added, “Well, Rev., I’m really sorry………………………………….. working clergy don’t have to pay the full departure tax. You’ve been overcharged and here’s your refund.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay on our beautiful Island.  Viva Comrade Bishop!”

“Viva” indeed – vamoose time

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The above photograph is of the Meenister and his two sons on Grande Anse Beach, St.George’s, Grenada

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Grenada

The Meenister’s Log

(The New Jewel Movement (NJM) under the leadership of  Maurice Bishop was the main opposition party in Grenada during the 1970s. In 1979, the party decided to overthrow the government of Eric Gairy which had ruled the country since independence in 1974. The NJM launched an armed takeover of the radio station, army barracks and various other key locations in Grenada while Gairy was on a trip outside the country. 
Bishop announced the formation of the PRG over radio. The constitution was suspended and the NJM announced new laws. The PRG organized a cabinet to run the country with Bishop as Prime Minister. All political organizations except for the NJM were banned.
The PRG established close relations with the government of Cuba and with Cuban assistance began construction of a large international airport. The PRG also began a systematic plan to build up a large army on the island.)
Grenada was invaded by the Americans on October 1983 and the Communist regime brought down.
I was twice asked to be locum there (there being no Presbyterian minister on the Island at that particular time) just a couple of years before the U.S invasion, and while Maurice Bishop’s regime was still in control.
On the first visit there, one Sunday evening, a service was held in the Anglican Church in St.George’s, the capital of Grenada, and to which, as the Presbyterian Minister, I was invited.
This service lasted more than two hours – but the time went by so quickly.  It was a Thanksgiving Service for three of the congregation who had just been released from jail – imprisoned for their anti-government views.
On hindsight, I’m surprised that they had been given their liberty, and that they were allowed to talk about their feelings in the crowded Church.
But talk they did, most sincerely and movingly about how, even though in prison, their faith liberated them from any bitterness or fear.
It is one of the most moving testimonies I have ever hear or ever will – true faith, forgiveness and hope in the liberating power of the Gospel message

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