Pastor Kerr's Biographical Sketch
Pastor Kerr was born in the parish of St. Catherine, Jamaica. He received his early education at the York Street All-Age School and at the Willowdene High School. He obtained his Bachelors of Theology degree from West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University) and his Masters of Arts in Religion degree from Andrews University. Pastor Kerr began his early ministry in the Central Jamaica Conference serving as an intern in the Spanish Town District and, later, in the South Manchester District. He pastored the South Clarendon, May Pen, Portmore, and Old Harbour district of churches before accepting the call to serve as a missionary to the Turks and Caicos Islands in September 1990 where he served for 20 years as mission president. During this time, he also served as departmental director and district pastor.
Upon his arrival in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in 1990, Pastor Kerr became the sole denominational worker serving the entire country. He immediately saw the urgent need for strong, stable leadership in the mission and was determined, with the help of God, to work with the people of that country to facilitate the steady growth and development of the church.
He supervised the work on five of the islands in the Turks and Caicos at a time when there were hardly any church buildings in which the few members could worship. There was one church with a small membership of about 26 in the capital of Grand Turk. South Caicos had a small group of 8 persons who had no building in which to worship. The island of Providenciales had the largest number of believers which amounted to about 76 at the time, and they were engaged in the construction of a new church which was almost 70% completed.
Pastor Kerr made church building and membership growth his number one goal; and six months after arriving in the country, he was able to mobilize and motivate the church and community to complete the Blue Hills Church building and dedicate it to the glory of God. The following year, he led out in the refurbishing and restoration of the old church building on the island of North Caicos which had been closed for more than 14 years. Upon the completion of the project, Pastor Kerr announced to the public that there were no Adventist members on the island except for a teacher who had come in from Trinidad on a government contract, and so he was asking the non-Adventist members of the community to adopt and own it as their church and to keep the doors constantly open for worship. The people surprisingly responded to the call and made it their church. Today, it remains one of the most vibrant congregations in that country. They have sent several students to study at NCU, and they are all today making great contributions to the development of the TCI.
In 2000, Pastor Kerr partnered with Maranatha Volunteers International and constructed three buildings: an education and evangelism center on the island of Providenciales where he established the Maranatha High School (now Maranatha Academy); a church on the island of South Caicos; and a school/church on the island of Grand Turk.
Pastor Kerr and his family experienced homelessness when the mission house in which they lived was destroyed by fire on May 23, 2003. This was truly a painful time for the Kerrs; but with the blessings of God and the assistance of the church, the community, and the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Pastor Kerr was able to complete and dedicate a much bigger, better, and more beautiful mission house in the short space of just 8 months after the fire. During his tenure, the membership of the mission increased from 119 in 1990 to over 2,200; the number of churches increased from 3 in 1990 to 8 organized churches and 2 companies at the time of his departure in 2010; and the number of denominational employees increased from just one in 1990 to twenty-five in 2010. Also, the mission was blessed with one primary school, one high school (Maranatha Academy which he founded in 2001), and a 10-acre camp site.
Pastor Kerr was a highly respected community leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands. He was appointed to serve on many government boards and committees. These include:
Member of the Turks and Caicos Community College Board - 2010 Member of the Turks and Caicos Islands Board of Higher Education - 2007 - 2009 Chaplain for Her Majesty's Prison (Grand Turk) - 2009 - 2010 Member of the Turks and Caicos Islands Education Advisory Committee - 2006 Member of the Turks and Caicos Islands National Drug Council - 1992 – 1997
Pastor Kerr and his family were so well loved, admired, and respected by the government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands that in 2000, the government offered citizenship to him, his wife, and two children. In November 2010, Pastor Kerr was elected to serve as executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union. Along with his administrative duties, he also served as family ministries and publishing ministries director as well as assistant to the president for evangelism and the prayer coordinator for the union. Pastor Kerr has been serving as a member of the Board of Governors of Northern Caribbean University for twenty-eight consecutive years, making him one of the longest serving members of the board.
At the mid-year executive committee meetings of the Inter-American Division, held in Miami on March 27, 2018, Pastor Kerr was elected to serve as president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union. Evangelism has always been priority for Pastor Kerr. He has led out in the establishment of 10 churches and the baptism of thousands of souls.
Pastor Kerr considers all these accomplishments as clear evidence of the gracious favors of God upon the wonderful, hardworking members of the church in the Turks and Caicos Islands who gave him wonderful support, and he is eternally grateful to God for His blessings over the years.
Pastor Kerr is married to Jennifer (née Coleman), and they have two adult children, Ava-Dayne and Andre; a son-in-law, Mark; a daughter-in-law, Arielle; and two amazingly beautiful granddaughters, Amoy and Amylia Fulford.
Pastor Kerr loves spending time with his family, especially his granddaughters, and he enjoys gardening and reading.
By Pauline Joe-Drakes/ATCU Communication Department
“Although we are separated by water, we are united by a common thread as Adventist teachers and administrators and that is accomplishing the goal of nurturing our children into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Cheryl Rolle, education director of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) as she officially opened the Atlantic Caribbean Union Teachers’ Retreat aboard the Carnival Victory Cruise Line on March 26, 2018.
Under the theme Anchored in Christ, the Heart of Adventist Education, over 100 teachers, school administrators, and counselors from Bahamas Academy in the South Bahamas Conference; Cayman Academy in the Cayman Islands Conference; Grand Bahama Academy in the North Bahamas Conference; and Maranatha Academy in the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission attended the four-day retreat that was organized to reaffirm the commitment to the purpose of Adventist education and to express heartfelt appreciation to the teachers.
At the welcome reception, Dr. Rolle revealed that while she hoped the teachers experienced professional growth, made new friends, and created lasting memories of laughter and delightful discoveries, the main objective was to provide opportunities for teachers to get even closer to Christ.
“By means of the inspiring devotional messages, the interaction with colleagues, the breathtaking beauty of the ocean, we want you to relax, to be still, to destress so that you can hear God’s reassuring voice telling you once again, I love you. A stronger bond with Christ is what we really want for all of us. All of us anchored anew in Christ,” Dr. Rolle explained.
Educators were fully engaged away from the regular rigors of the normal school day as they first connected with God and then with their colleagues. Daily devotions, led by Pastor Theodore Basil Sturrup of the South Bahamas Conference, encouraged attendees to always be mindful of the power of focus and to never minimize their high calling as educators. He reminded the teachers to always put God first as Matthew 6:33 states. “You’re either going to chase things or you are going to chase God,” he said. Pastor Sturrup further explained that God will supply everything that will be needed once He is first.
Professional growth and collegial interaction occurred through the daily table topic discussions and the individual school presentations on the educational practices or strategies being implemented at the respective institutions. Teachers exchanged opinions on such issues as cell phone use in schools, retention, homework policy, and the pros and cons of zero-tolerance policies. Ideas for enriching teaching were gained from the following presentations: Bahamas Academy – “The Importance of Literacy and Technology in the 21st Century Classroom;” Cayman Academy – “Applying Appropriate Strategies to Enhance Learning;” Grand Bahama Academy – “It Works! (The BWI Lesson Plan);” and Maranatha Academy – “Utilizing Gamification in the Classroom.”
Educators of ATCU were able to renew their minds and relax as they fellowshipped and visited the two ports of call – Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. There is no doubt that the teachers are waiting with bated breaths for the next opportunity to once again unite for professional development and relaxation.
“This time helped me to recalibrate and truly understand my calling and my responsibility to my students as God’s children,” said a teacher.
The Education Department of the ATCU hosts either a teachers’ retreat or convention every five years. This is the second collegial gathering of ATCU educators organized by Dr. Cheryl Rolle and her team of four field directors since the union was formed in November 2010.
View photos here
ATCU Communication Department
On January 17, 2016, the education department of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), headed by Dr. Cheryl Rolle, welcomed members of the Bainum Family Foundation, a Seventh-day Adventist Initiative located in Silver Springs, Maryland, to the union territory to conduct an assessment of its schools in The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and at a later date, the Cayman Islands.
“While the Adventist church does have an evaluation process in place for its schools that is implemented systematically by the union, it does not mean that other independent educational agencies cannot be used to help us realize our goals. Recognizing that there is always room for improvement, we have taken this proactive approach of identifying our strengths and weaknesses, particularly in the areas of leadership and governance, academics and instruction, and finance in order to develop strategies that will make us an excellent school system rather than a system of schools,” said Dr. Rolle.
Mr. David Daniels, senior director of the Bainum Family Foundation and leader of the audit team commended the ATCU’s education department for its proactive approach in addressing the issues in the schools within the union. “I have been accustomed to being called when things are bad,” said Daniels. “But, here at ATCU, we’ve come to help bring the schools from good to great as it were.”
Several weeks prior to the visit, students, teachers, and parents from Bahamas Academy in Nassau, Bahamas; Grand Bahama Academy in Grand Bahama, The Bahamas; and Maranatha Academy in the Turks and Caicos Islands, completed surveys in preparation for the audit. The professional team also reviewed school documents such as external exam results for over a five-year period.
When asked about his initial assessment, Daniels said that he was extremely impressed with how excited the students were to learn. He stated that the schools within ATCU had great potential for being model schools not only within the Adventist school system, but also for the government school system.
Daniels and his team members, Amy Soper, Marcus Gray, and Ginger Slaughter, during their weeklong assessment, interviewed representative stakeholders of the schools, met with students, teachers, and administrators, and conducted classroom observations. On Thursday, January 21, they presented an initial report of their findings to Dr. Rolle and the education directors from the fields: Mrs. Lynn Smith from the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission; Mrs. Joan Scavella from the South Bahamas Conference; and Mrs. Desiree Forbes from the North Bahamas Conference. Within three weeks, a more detailed report will be submitted to Dr. Rolle to be shared with the stakeholders.
Dr. Rolle said that she was grateful for the assistance from Mr. Daniels and his team who volunteered to assist on their own time, as the foundation works with faith-based schools in the United States only.
“The wonderful thing is that Mr. Daniels and his team will continue to work with us as we implement the recommendations. So, we look forward to this working relationship and their support as we forge ahead to ensure that all schools in the union are schools of excellence, speaking the same language as it relates to the delivery of quality Seventh-day Adventist education.”
Stakeholders were excited about the process and have committed to supporting the endeavor and initiatives.
“This process gets us excited because I expect positive developments in our school as a result of the audit,” stated a local church elder and former parent of Bahamas Academy.
The Bainum Family Foundation supports educational programs and projects assisting underserved children and youth as well as Seventh-day Adventist primary and secondary schools. To meet this mission, the Foundation develops programs that build instructional and organizational capacity in schools to ensure that both students and schools reach their full potential for success
The goal of the four schools within ATCU is to provide a balanced spiritual, mental, physical, social, and vocational education in harmony with Seventh-day Adventist standards and ideals that will prepare children and young people to be productive citizens in their communities and heaven.
Communication Department, ATCU
During the weekend of March 27-29, 2015, a delegation of five from the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) were present at the streaming site for the Second Virtual Education Congress hosted by the education department of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD). Leading the delegation was Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU. Elder Roderick Sands, union treasurer; Alree Price, Bahamas Academy, South Bahamas Conference; Avoney Wellington, Grand Bahama Academy, North Bahamas Conference; and Alicia Castillo-Timothy, Cayman Academy, Cayman Islands Conference accompanied him. Also in attendance was Denise Johnson, guidance counselor of Bahamas Academy.
Focusing on the future of Adventist Education in the territory of Inter-America, the congress employed as its theme "Adventist Education: Shaping The Future of The Church.” Accordingly, union after union presented the education challenges facing its respective field and presented the strategies to address them in an effort to safeguard the future of Adventist education.
Among the projections presented by ATCU were:
- Inspiring a stronger spiritual relationship with Christ among teachers and administrators
- Greater involvement of constituents, especially pastors
- Securing and Providing Adequate Funding
- Improved and adequate physical plant
Main presenter for the congress was Pastor Shane Anderson, author of the famous book How to Kill Adventist Education (and How to Give It a Fighting Chance!). Other presenters included Dr. Israel Leito, president of IAD; Dr. Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of IAD; Dr. Gamaliel Florez, education director of IAD; and Dr. Faye Patterson, associate education director of IAD.
The weekend’s activities were well received by ATCU participants who felt inspired by the event.
"I'm more motivated to teach what I represent - true Adventist education whatever the cost,” said Alree Price.
Avoney Wellington declared, "Awesome! I’m impressed and encouraged to learn that our situation is not unique to what is happening in IAD."
And Alicia Castillo-Timothy concluded, "It was a very informative and motivating experience, as many pertinent issues regarding Adventist education were raised and, thankfully, various solutions were offered in order to transform the system to ensure that God is manifested at the center."
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE Grand Bahama Academy was closed for some 250 students after a fire yesterday morning damaged some of the classrooms, the kitchen and the cafeteria.
Police said the cause of the fire is unknown, but some suspect it might have been a case of arson. An official said there was also a break-in and theft at the school.
Haydn Hanna, the school’s business manager, told The Tribune that “it was a miracle” the entire school did not burn down. He said the fire started in the kitchen, where there was extensive damage.
Mr Hanna reported that cases of drinks were stolen from a storage room.
“The door to the cafeteria was kicked in and the place was broken into and 30 cases of drinks were stolen from the storage room, where we kept a large shipment of items worth over $4,000, and the culprits lit the fire in there. It is a miracle the whole school did not burn down,” he said.
Police received the fire report around 7:30am. Inspector Terecita Pinder reported that when firemen arrived at the scene they saw fire and smoke damage to several rooms.
She said the damage was estimated at about $80,000.
“The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and police are actively investigating this matter,” she said.
Mr Hanna said the school’s cook was the first at the scene and notified officials.
“The kitchen was completely destroyed, but there was only minor damage to three classrooms,” Mr Hanna said.
“It seems that the fire had burned through a water pipe running overhead into the cafeteria and the water in the pipe came gushing down and extinguished the fire,” he said.
“We had no school today (Tuesday) because of the fire, but we hope to get the repairs to those classrooms and to the exterior done as soon as possible, and so we have suspended school for the rest of the week,” he said.
The school, which is located in the Grasmere Subdivision, will remain closed for a week until repairs are completed to the three classrooms, which were damaged by smoke.
He said that repairs to the kitchen are not expected to be completed when school reopens on Monday.
When Grand Bahama Academy opened its doors to the new school year on September 1, 2014, it began with a new principal at its helm. Mrs. Ruth Rolle, a veteran educator with over 40 years experience, will provide leadership to the more than 250 students and 25 staff members of the 31-year old institution. Grand Bahama Academy, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, is one of the four schools within the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU). It is owned and operated by the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Recently, Mrs. Rolle along with other educators from ATCU attended the second teachers’ congress sponsored by the education department of the Inter-American Division (IAD). The four-day event, which was held in Riviera Maya, Mexico, brought together over one thousand participants which included university presidents, union and local field presidents, education directors, principals, and selected teachers from across the IAD.
During the meetings, Libna Stevens, associate communication director of IAD, interviewed Mrs. Rolle. In the interview, Mrs. Rolle affirmed her commitment for teaching and her philosophy of education.
Below is an excerpt of the interview as recorded by Libna Stevens of IAD:
For Ruth Rolle of Grand Bahama, Bahamas, teaching has been a passion for more than 40 years. She’s taught first grade at Grand Bahama Academy, a K-12 grade Adventist school, for decades and just recently was appointed as the principal of the school.
Out of all her years as a teacher, she taught three years for the Bahamas government, and has always had the mission and vision of Adventist education clear in her mind.
“Teaching is such an awesome responsibility because we are training kids and preparing them for eternity,” said Rolle.
Rolle saw the school being built some 30 years ago and smiles as she recalls the hundreds of children whom she taught. The school, she said, has some 250 students and two-thirds are non-Seventh-day Adventists. She has seen many children come through the school who have questions about God, and knows how important her role as a minister of the gospel is in the classroom. Rolle sees the challenge of retaking the vision of Adventist education for teachers who have been educating in the Adventist school system and the new teachers who join and may not realize how crucial understanding that vision and mission of Adventist education is.
Adventist Teachers Called to Be Ministers
The second Teachers’ Congress sponsored by the Education Department of the Inter-American Division took place from September 10 – 13, 2014, in Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Over six hundred university presidents, union and local field presidents, education directors, principals, and selected teachers from the English, Spanish and French-speaking regions of the Division were in attendance.
“The Teacher As A Minister of the Gospel” was the theme chosen for the congress, and every worship and workshop session spoke to the relevancy of this theme. Special guest speakers included Dr. George Knight, retired SDA educator, administrator, and writer, who challenged the educators to look at Adventist education in light of the apocalyptic vision outlined in Revelation 14. He reminded everyone that as educators, we must give hope to our students through our apocalyptic mission. An amazing lover of Adventist history, Knight paralleled the historic growth of Adventist missions to the growth of Adventist schools. He reiterated that the purpose of Adventist education is three-fold:
- To prepare students for this life;
- To introduce students to Christ;
- To inspire the coming generation with an understanding of prophecy, giving them hope for an eternal future.
Another well-known presenter was Dr. Lowell Cooper. Cooper, a general vice-president of the General Conference also serves as chairman for the boards at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Science Center and Adventist Health International. Dr. Cooper challenged his listeners to think seriously about the church’s responsibility to its educational system when he stated that the church needs to see the institution as an extension of the church and that our schools are not just employment agencies. His inspiring sermon on Sabbath further challenged the educators to look at their work as a calling from God. He said “God doesn’t call people to positions or careers until he calls them to Himself. When you sense your calling from God, He puts you on pathways you will not understand.”
Also in attendance was Dr. Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, the Director of Education at the General Conference of S.D.A. Dr. Beardsley-Hardy addressed the topic “SDA Education as an Evangelistic Strategy”. In her remarks, she stated that the Bible should be the center of all curricula and that the core features of Adventist education should be:
1.Redemptive in its purpose
2.Balanced, and a holistic development
3.Restoring the image of God in students
- Developing in students the ability to think and do
- Preparing students for service in this life
The list of presenters at this historical congress showcased some of the best names in the church’s organizational and educational system: Dr. Ella Simmons, General Vice-President of the General Conference; Dr. Myrna Colon, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico; Dr. Myrna Costa, Vice-President of the Inter-American Division; Dr. Mike Lekic, Associate Education Director of the General Conference; Susana Schulz, Assistant Editor of Dialogue University magazine at the General Conference; Dr. Luis Schulz, Associate Director of Education at the General Conference; Dr. John Wesley Taylor, Associate Director of Education at the General Conference; Dr. Dan Tucker, Marketing Consultant; and Dr. Filiberto Verduzco, Treasurer of the Inter-American Division.
Interspersed through the daily activities were inspiring devotionals and heavenly music. The catchy and rhythmic theme song, written especially for the congress, reminded us daily of the special mission of Adventist teachers in our schools. Everyone left this conclave with a renewed sense of purpose to fulfill the mission for which Adventist schools were established. Organizing and coordinating this five-year event were Dr. Gamaliel Florez, Director of Education for the Inter-American Division, and Dr. Faye Patterson, Associate Director of Education for the Inter-American Division. We look forward with anticipation to the next Teachers’ Congress!
By: Lynn C. Smith, Education Director, TCIM
The school year, 2013 - 2014 brought some victorious moments for Bahamas Academy. Among them were the results for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) external examinations. We celebrate our students’ performance in both examinations.
The BJC results reflect the following top achievers: Ashton Alcime with 2A’s, 4B’s, and 1C. Noel Mark with 2A’s, 3B’s, and 2C’s; Joel Kemp with 4A’s, and 3C’s; and Breann Rahming with 5A’s.
In the BGCSE category are Raven Hanna with 3A’s, 4B’s, and 1C; Catrea Conyers with 2A’s, 4B’s, and 1C; and Jevon Thomas with 2A’s, 2B’s and 3C’s.
Many of our students leave Bahamas Academy with passes in eight or more BGCSE’s having had the opportunity to sit them in Grades 11 and 12.
Special thanks to our dedicated teachers and parents for the discipline they have instilled in our students. The results were achieved from the long and arduous efforts of the home, school, and church.
With the theme, “Reaching New Heights with Christ,” we stand on the threshold of a new school year. Our prayer is that all church members will partner with us in supporting the mission of training head, hands, and heart. There will be new hurdles to cross, but we are confident in the Master Teacher who is able to take us through each challenge and transform them into awesome opportunities for powerful witness.
We thank you for your contributions over the years and request your continued partnership. Pray constantly for the success of our school, because together we can achieve more.
As our school reaches new heights with Christ in 2014-2015, you must be a part of the exciting journey.
Teoria Murray, 2nd-year medical student at UWI
“Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve”- this phrase, the motto of Oakwood University, played over and over in my head the summer after my graduation. As the words tumbled in my mind, I examined them to see how they had played out during my four-year stay.
I entered Oakwood in 2008, young and eager, uncertain of where this path would take me. When my parents left me at orientation, I tried to convince myself that I would be okay. I prayed that I would make friends, adjust to my newfound independence and increased workload, and have some fun along the way. I could never have predicted the journey God would take me through.
Being an Adventist institution, God’s presence was invited into each class with prayer and the spiritual aspect was considered in all things. Once a week, the whole school would gather in the campus church to worship and testify. My major was Biochemistry, and I was excited to see God as the author of science. The professors spoke from the heart, pushed us to excel, and presented lots of opportunities for us to learn from the students who came before us. Students were motivated to take part in research and represented the school and the Lord well at national and international levels. Above all this, we were encouraged to serve others. There were many ministries - choirs, drama groups, and the orchestra among them.
Early in my Oakwood experience, I joined the mission group NAPS - the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. This was where my Christian experience came to life. I learnt to give Bible studies to children, then to their families. We travelled around the United States doing colporteur work, raising money for overseas missions, and ministering to young people at schools, detention centres, and churches. I was given the opportunity to go on mission trips to rural villages in Mozambique and Guyana. At the end of it all, I felt called to take a year off from school as a full-time missionary and God blessed my efforts. Beyond a substantial education in the sciences, I gained lifelong friends, a heart of compassion for others, and an understanding of my duty to the world as a Christian.
The next year ushered in new circumstances - a much esteemed public university. The University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica was a whole new world for me. The campus boasted a student population of more than 15,000 (more than 6 times that of Oakwood), and it wasn’t long before I encountered the melting pot of world views and beliefs. There were scholarly Christians of all denominations, Muslims, Rastafarians, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and everything in between. The medical faculty was a mixture of those who scoffed at religion and those who believed, but found it irrelevant to science.
I looked hard for wholesome activities in the midst of frequent parties raging outside my window. My beliefs were challenged and scrutinized, and for a while I struggled with a feeling of isolation. Thankfully, God showed me how to use the uniqueness of the Adventist faith as a ministry. I committed to study my beliefs more carefully and to share them with others as the opportunity arose. On Sabbaths, I answered questions my peers had about my “weekly holiday.” They wanted to know why I didn’t drink alcohol when we celebrated and why I didn’t eat certain things. Every question was an open door for witnessing. I showed kindness to overworked faculty members. I learned to befriend people very different from me and to see life from their perspective. UWI has a firm foundation of humanitarian work, so my friends and I took part in several outreach efforts. Day by day, the school I saw as a mountain of opposition became a stepping stone to a closer walk with God.
To all the students who will be attending Adventist colleges or universities this year, take advantage of the amazing opportunities you will have to understand your faith for yourself, to share the gospel, and to make friends who will support you in your Christian journey. These schools were planted by God Himself to advance His work by preparing young men and women to represent Him as professionals.
To those who will be attending public or private non-Adventist colleges or universities, do not be intimidated by conflict or disheartened by resistance to your faith. Instead, cling to God and you will discover unlimited spiritual power to meet every challenge in His strength. God has promised that He “is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). He has also directed us, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). See how much worth God places on us and what a high standard we are to reach!
I believe God has called me to be a medical missionary. Whatever passion He has placed in your heart to pursue as a career, know that it is not your ultimate purpose, but a means to an end. The purpose of your whole educational journey is to prepare you for Christ’s second coming and to win souls for His kingdom. “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiselled into stone, but carved into human lives...” (2 Corinthians 3:3, Message Bible).
Communication Department, ATCU
On Sabbath, November 12, 2013, approximately 80 educators from throughout the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) met in their respective fields to be a part of the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) first virtual education congress. The event was streamed live across the division's territory from the headquarters of the IAD in Miami, Florida. According to information from the organizers of the congress, which can be found on the IAD’s website at www.interamerica.org, more than 120 educators from the 22 unions in IAD attended the live event at the division’s headquarters with thousands more from around Inter-America viewing by internet.
In New Providence, teachers and administrators from Bahamas Academy, one of the four schools within the union, worshipped at the union's headquarters on Gladstone Road. Dr. Cheryl Rolle, education director for ATCU, brought brief remarks, explaining that the congress was organized to achieve three main objectives: (1) To strengthen commitment to God; (2) To strengthen commitment to the church; and (3) To strengthen the personal commitment of the educators and leaders of the educational system in the IAD territory. The activities and presentations affirmed that the mission of the educational system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was to see the children and youth of the church saved in Christ’s kingdom. Presenters included Dr. Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, education director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC); Dr. Gamaliel Florez, education director of IAD; and Pastor Samuel Telemaque, director of the Office of Adventist Mission and associate Sabbath School and personal ministries director of the IAD.
In Freeport, Grand Bahama, teachers from Grand Bahama Academy viewed the congress at the North Bahamas Conference office. In the Cayman Islands, Pastor Ivor Harry, education director for the conference, reports that on the Friday evening before the Sabbath morning service, 25 teachers from Cayman Academy participated in a communion service and love feast. Then, on Sabbath morning, they assembled at the school's auditorium to be a part of the virtual congress.
Representing the Atlantic Caribbean Union at the site of the live event in Miami, Florida were Rowena Smith from Bahamas Academy, Mr. Henry Morgan from Grand Bahama Academy, and Mrs. Asha Singh from Cayman Academy.
Photos by John Garcia
By: Andrew Burrows, Communication Director, ATCU
Under the theme Onward, Upward, and Beyond, the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) held its annual graduation exercises at the University’s Gymnatorium in Mandeville, Jamaica during the weekend of August 9-11, 2013.
In his address at both commencement services on Sunday, August 10, Dr. Trevor Gardner, president of NCU, announced that in an effort to ease the financial sacrifice, the administration decided to freeze tuition increase for the 2013/2014 academic year.
"There will be further student payment options with a view to making fewer increases for the duration of studies across the disciplines," Dr. Gardner said.
During his remarks, Dr. Leonard A. Johnson, president of Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) and vice chairman of the university board, challenged the graduands to hold themselves to the high standards and values they had been taught at NCU.
“Do not short change or sell yourself for monetary gain or position, status or fame, for the stories of Joseph and Daniel teach us that all of these could be gotten by faithfulness to God, His church, and His word.”
Dr. Johnson also commended Dr. Trevor Gardner for the numerous times he has sought to identify with the various initiatives and meetings of ATCU, given that NCU is owned and operated by two entities, the Jamaica Union (JAMU) and ATCU.
“This is healthy as it underscores that NCU is jointly owned by JAMU and ATCU,” Dr. Johnson said.
In addition to the 1,058 students who received certifications, including bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, three persons received honorary doctorate degrees.
The Honourable Oliver Clarke, chairman of the Gleaner Company Limited and the speaker for the first commencement service, received the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. Elder George W. Brown and Pastor Wilton McDonald were both conferred the Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. Elder George W. Brown, a former president of the Inter-American Division, was the speaker for the second commencement ceremony. Pastor Wilton McDonald, who currently serves as a district pastor, ministerial secretary, and publishing director for the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has devoted more than 41 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, mostly in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.
Also at the ceremony and in celebration of 2013 as the Year of Laity in the Inter-American Division, eight lay people from both the Atlantic Caribbean Union and the Jamaica Union received special awards for their contribution in evangelism. Among them were David Campbell from the Cayman Islands Conference, Vernal Rolle from the South Bahamas Conference, and Osaias Joseph from the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission.
Felcia Datus of the South Bahamas Conference, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Primary Teacher Education, shared her testimony during the Sabbath afternoon service.
"I wouldn't change my experience at NCU for anything in the world. There are not many universities where friends would gather around you to pray when you are at a low point. To leave university with a degree but no knowledge of Christ is vain. NCU gave me both, Christ and a degree."
According to the university’s website, NCU currently has an enrollment of over 5000 students from 34 countries including the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Article By: Marie Church-Smith, Bahamas Academy
The much anticipated four-day Atlantic Caribbean Union Teachers’ Convention became a reality on July 14, 2013, when all roads led to the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, Miami, Florida. It was the first of its kind for this brand new territory of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. However, under the astute leadership of Dr. Cheryl Rolle, education director of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), the planning and execution of the convention’s activities were said to be on the same level of those of our world church General Conference sessions.
Under the theme “A Teacher After God’s Own Heart,” the four days gave educators from the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission, an opportunity to sharpen their skills as they sat at the feet of guest speakers and presenters who shared their expertise with us so that the work we do for the Master Teacher would be of extraordinary quality. It was an exercise that allowed us not just to grow professionally, but also to enhance our relationship with God.
The opening session began promptly with much pomp and circumstance. Excitement was generated as faculty members with their respective education directors and school administrators participated in the Parade of Institutions. Bedecked in their respective colors and toting individual school banners, we knew and felt that this was going to be an unforgettable experience.
Dr. Gamaliel Flórez, education director of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD), gave the keynote address. A consummate storyteller, he used the simple, yet profound story of the feeding of the five thousand by Jesus to remind us that teachers are the most important instruments God has for His church. He drove home the point that one of God’s hands is Seventh-day Adventist education and that by ourselves we are nothing, but in God’s hands, teachers make the difference in a child’s life. We are the fingers of God’s hands, taking the children in our care to the kingdom of eternal life.
This delightful and inspirational presentation was punctuated with welcome and greetings from Dr. Cheryl Rolle and Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU. Other participants of the opening ceremony included Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of ATCU, Elder Roderick Sands, treasurer of ATCU, and Dr. Faye Patterson, associate education director of the IAD.
Days two and three were replete with intensive breakout sessions where faculty members attended seminars of their choice. These sessions sensitized us in areas of Bible textbook training, using media, teaching special-needs learners, effective classroom management strategies, the characteristics of a professional Adventist teacher, dealing with mental illness in the classroom, integration of faith and learning, how to engage pastors with our schools, how to increase financial giving to our schools, dealing with bullying, teaching critical literacy skills, and identifying the key ingredients of a thriving Seventh-day Adventist school.
Special thanks to the presenters: Cheryl Alonzo, Pastor Shane Anderson, Kathiann Antonio, Courtney Brown, Luis Cortes, David Daniels, Trevor Gardner, Jacqueline HoShing-Clarke, Raquel Korniejczuk, Pastor L. A. Johnson, Lorna Leon, Marleen Martinborough, Faye Patterson, Jicell Taylor, and Pastor Samuel Telemaque.
Regardless of the sessions we attended, the common thread that bound us together can be best described by the words of our devotional speaker, Mr. David Daniels, “God has chosen us to do a great work. As educators we are doing a great work because of whom we serve – God. We are to serve the students in our care because we might be the only Christ they see.”
Our final speaker was the illustrious president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, Dr. L. A. Johnson. His remarks were quite apropos as he reminded us that Seventh-day Adventist education is not an option, it is a must. It is to lead students to experience redemption in God. His presentation was encapsulated in three main points. We are to understand Adventist education – it is to restore mankind to His Creator; we are to embrace Adventist education – as we are valuable, we carry tremendous influence; and we must maintain Adventist education – our schools are to be the best, and so reviewing our vision statement constantly will aid in propelling us to fulfill our purpose for existence.
It was not all business. We took time out to fellowship, go shopping, and take in the sights and scenes of the delectable city of Miami.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013, caused a stir of mixed emotions. We were saddened to be leaving the fellowship and rapport we developed with each other, but we were revitalized and eager to return to our various fields empowered with the tools to make a difference in a child’s life; committed to the task of moving our students from earthly principles to heavenly principles which leads to eternal life.
There is no doubt in our minds that we will be waiting with eager anticipation for the next quinquennium when we will meet to share in a wonderful experience again. We say a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Cheryl Rolle and the education directors of the various fields who were members of the planning committee. May God bless you as you give of your best to the Master Teacher.
Grand Bahama Academy held its annual Grade 6 promotional ceremony on Thursday, June 6, 2013, under the theme “Changing Today to Inspire Tomorrow.” Held at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church, the event was attended by the administrators of the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, pastors, and education director, Mrs. Desiree Rolle-Forbes who gave brief remarks.
The guest speaker for the occasion was veteran journalist and former news anchor of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas, Mrs. Pakesia Edgecombe, who motivated the graduates to make positive choices as they aspire to be the change agents for tomorrow. She encouraged the students to continue to excel as they contemplate the start of their high school journey. Mrs. Edgecombe also reminded the parents of their responsibilities in helping to guide their children as they continue on the path to success.
The class valedictorian, BoJames VanPopering, gave an inspiring speech as he reminded his classmates that the education they received will eventually create opportunities for tomorrow. He admonished his classmates to never give up on their dreams and reminded them of the promise found in Jeremiah 29: 11 which says that God has a plan for their lives, plans that will prosper them and give them a future.
Arianna Bastian, class salutatorian, did an awesome job in thanking the teachers and parents for guiding them throughout their primary school journey. The nineteen graduates were presented with numerous awards and certificates.
On Sabbath, June 8, 2013, the secondary division of Grand Bahama Academy held its baccalaureate service at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church. The guest speaker was Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union. The theme chosen for this senior class event was “With Our Feet on the Ground, We Reach for the Stars.” Pastor Kerr challenged the graduates to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground as they reach for loftier heights.
The climax of the high school’s celebrations was the fifth annual graduation ceremony held at Our Lucaya Convention Center. Guest speaker, Senator Tanisha Tynes, encouraged graduates to keep pressing forward as they enter another chapter of their lives. She related the stories of Ben Carson and Prime Minister Perry Christie who, despite being faced with challenges in their early lives, overcame them and became great leaders in their fields.
The class valedictorian, Hilniqua Gibson, and salutatorian, Shelleta Ferguson, both gave glowing speeches and tributes respectively. The highlight of this ceremony came when the seventeen graduates walked across the stage to collect their diplomas and trophy awards. The valedictorian and student of the year, Hilniqua Gibson, walked away with the majority of the subject awards. We also salute Shelleta Ferguson, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, for her valiant effort.
We commend all the teachers for a job well done and heartily congratulate all the graduates for achieving this educational milestone. We wish them continued success as they make their transition to high school and college. For those students whose journey will take them to different places of work, we pray that God will use them in a mighty way and that they will continue to keep the flames of Grand Bahama Academy burning brightly.
Pastor D. Richard Henderson, assistant pastor of the Grants Town Seventh-day Adventist Church, conducted the services at the elementary division while Natalie Roberts, school chaplain, conducted those at the secondary division.
Subsequently, ten elementary students and ten secondary students, upon completing Bible classes to deepen their understanding of the Bible and the will of God in their lives, did not hesitate to follow the Lord all the way in baptism on Friday, May 17, 2013. With smiles on their faces and cameras in their hands, parents came to the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church to witness this most important milestone in their children’s spiritual growth.
Pastor Paul Scavella, president of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SBC) and Bahamas Academy school board chairman; Mrs. Joan Scavella, education director of SBC; Mrs. Elmore Jacques, vice principal of the elementary division; and a representation from the faculty and staff of BA all shared in the moment.
Pastor Scavella encouraged the students to pray and ask God for strength, because all the temptations and trials that they have been faced with will not automatically disappear after baptism. He continued by explaining that constant communication with Jesus through prayer is vital to overcoming temptation and that the good news is that Jesus is always there.
Let us continue to pray for and support our children as well as our school, Bahamas Academy.
Article By: John Garcia
“Planta una iglesia, Crece una iglesia, Expande el reino de Dios” (“Plant a church, Grow a church, Expand God’s Kingdom” i s the motto of the student missionary group from the University of Montemorelos in Mexico who are preparing to embark on a missionary project in New Providence, The Bahamas during June 6 – 16, 2013.
Led by union education director, Dr. Cheryl Rolle, a group of seven principals and directors from the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) joined more than one hundred other principals and directors from the four English-speaking unions of the Inter-American Division (IAD) in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad to participate in the Division’s first principals’ council.
On Thursday, March 7, 2013, festive banners adorned the perimeters of Grand Bahama Academy of Seventh-day Adventists (GBA) and prayer symbols were strategically posted around the school as the GBA family joined the other Seventh-day Adventist schools in the Inter-American Division in celebrating the third annual Day of Prayer.
Shannon Butler, a 12th grade student and Deputy Head Boy at his high school received the award for Best Overall Performance in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in the 2012 B.G.C.S.E. examinations at the Ministry of Education Awards Ceremony held on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road. Shannon earned 9As and 1B while in the 11th grade. Read More...
Hurricane Sandy interrupted the normal running of Bahamas Academy (BA) during the week of October 22 to 26, 2012; but while the storm raged, students were still looking forward to some exciting activities that were either postponed or on schedule for the subsequent week. Read More...
Maranatha Academy was host to a very special group of people on its campus from October 9 – 11, 2012. The group was there to ascertain the quality of the educational system and to analyze the school’s readiness to have its accreditation status extended.
Under the theme “We’ve Come This Far by Faith” the Bahamas Academy school family and members of the South Bahamas Conference along with alumni and guests assembled on Sabbath, September 15, 2012, at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church on the island of New Providence, the Bahamas to commence the school’s one hundredth year anniversary.
“Integration of Faith and Learning” was the topic for the professional development workshop presented by the Education Director of the Turks & Caicos Islands Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (TCIM), Mrs. Lynn Smith, to the teachers of Maranatha Academy on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
Turks & Caicos Islands Mission
September is right around the corner. The shoes and socks are purchased. The new backpack is hanging in the closet. Notebooks and pencils are lying on the table. And the uniforms are clean and ready to be worn. Everything seems to be ready for the opening of school. The kids are excited and ready; but parents are you mentally ready for another school year? Read More...
During the weekend of August 10-12, 2012, the leadership of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ACUM), part owner of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), was pleased to participate in the annual graduation exercises at NCU. Read More...
Shakespeare, the famous English writer, once wrote: "To be or not to be..."
For many years, that phrase has made countless people around the world think. It has been translated into many languages. The writer wanted to make people think about the responsibility they have to develop themselves as persons.
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