A unique voice
Last Thursday night, the Barbados District of the Wesleyan Holiness Church paid tribute to one of its most loyal sons, the late Ivan Mortimore Wickham, during the inaugural lecture in his name, at the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church. It was delivered Reverend Dr. Hamilton Taitt.
It was all part of year-long celebrations of the church’s 100th anniversary in Barbados, and today we reproduce FINAL PART of an edited version of that presentation, which looked at Wickham’s like as a family man, community workers and church leader.
by Rev. Dr. Hamilton Taitt
Reverend Wickham was appointed by the North American church to become the District
Superintendent of Barbados Pilgrim Holiness Church. This appointment was in 1962; in 1965 he was elected by his own people as the second native to hold the office. Rev. L.S. Brathwaite was the first to be appointed; Rev. Wickham the first to be elected into the office.
The superintendent was a clever administrator. Anyone acquainted with his administration must agree that Rev. Wickham was an excellent planner.
Three years after Rev. Wickham became superintendent of Barbados the District became fully indigenous; the first self-supporting district in the Caribbean. His former secretary, Gloria Taylor, described him as an outstanding administrator. Whether for pastors meeting, District Board of Administration meeting or District Conference, he carefully planned the agenda. There were 40 churches in Barbados. Rev. Wickham planned to visit each church within the fiscal year. If he could not go a Sunday morning, he would try to visit that church during conference time.
Members anticipated such visits. Generally, he would inform the local church of his plan to visit.
He was also an exceptional performer. Rev. Wickham not only planned but he executed what he planned. He was a man of his word. Sometimes he was misunderstood; but with time the point is usually made clear. He introduced a resolution in a district asking for a confidence vote for pastors. Many delegates thought that he was asking the local churches to call their pastors; but that was not what he meant. He was asking for the vote to indicate the relationship between the pastor and the local church.
Placement would be left with the District Board of Administration.
Rev. Wickham was known for his ceremonial acumen. Every ceremony he performed was graced with a sacred atmosphere. Dr. A. W. Taylor said that he attended the opening of a local church with Rev. Wickham; As he held the door and made a prayer the atmosphere became filled with the sacred presence of the Lord.
He had a voice that was unique. At times when he carried a burden, he would groan; but amidst the groans he trusted in the God who would respond to the requests of his heart.
Rev. Wickham was a master of ceremonies. He approached them with a sense of assurance. No matter how often some ministers marry couples they still depend on the manual to guide them. Rev. Wickham conducted the marriage ceremony without looking in the book. He knew the entire ceremony by heart. Some of us learned it by heart, but dared not do without the book during the ceremony.
Other ceremonies were ably conducted by so brilliant a gentleman, who approached his activities for God with confidence. He must be recognised as a dedicated servant.
Reverend Wickham functioned in Barbados inter-denominationally.
He functioned as an officer in the Christian Holiness Association, and helped to plan services with the emphasis on holiness. He also served on the board of the Association of Evangelical Churches. This association at times had to disagree with government policy as in the case when the Government wanted to liberalise abortion. The association along with the Council of Churches eventually persuaded the Government to alter its position. Rev. Wickham was not anti-government, but his Lord was first in his life. When requested he served indescriminately.
Rev. Wickham was well respected by politicians from both parties. He was very careful in expounding which party he favored. If asked to sit on a board like the Marriage Officers Committee, he willingly served as long as it did not hinder his ministerial duties. Rev. Wickham also served internationally.
He was known in the Caribbean as he functioned in the Caribbean ministry.
He became District Superintendent of St. Vincent when the work on the island was attached to Barbados. He continued as superintendent of the two countries until he retired in 1980. The North American Headquarters effected Caribbean field indigenous leadership in 1970. Rev. Wickham was appointed the first Assistant Field Superintendent from 1970-1974. When the Caribbean became a Provisional General Conference in 1974, he became the first Assistant General Superintendent, from 1974-1978. Rev. Wickham also served as a Governor on the Caribbean Pilgrim College/Wesleyan College.
Given time and youth Rev. Wickhaim’s ministry would have been a continental ministry. He travelled as far as Israel; but he preached in England, the US and the Caribbean; not only in
Wesleyan churches, but in the Nazarene churches, independent evangelical churches, and other assemblies. He spoke in conventions, seminars and conferences.
Rev. Irvine Mortimer Wickham was a great servant of God. Converted under his father’s ministry at 13; called to the ministry in his early 20s; appointed pastor of one of the largest churches at 34; appointed District Superintendent of the largest District of the
Pilgrim Holiness churches in the Caribbean in 1962; served the general church in whatever capacity he was asked or elected to serve. He served his God and his church and his community well. He should never be forgotten. To God be the glory.
Shakespeare said: “The evil that men do lives after them, but the good is oft interred in their bones.” This is not so with Reverend I. M. Wickham. The good about him must be told, and is told. He lived an impressionable holy life. At his passing to be with the Lord in December 1991, tributes came from secular as well as religious persons; from within his church as well as from without; from persons in Canada, US, England, the Caribbean and especially, his beloved Barbados.
He was truly a great man; one who loved his Lord very much. On the evening of his funeral cemetery personnel stood liked an honored guard as the funeral procession made its way to the grave.
Words of praise came from them along with others who had admired the life of this true Christian.