Late Pentecostal leader hailed as a colossus
Barbadians today joined with the 4,000 members of the People’s Cathedral on Bishop’s Court Hill, St Michael in mourning the death of church founder Reverend Dr Holmes Williams, who was hailed today as a special preacher and gifted evangelist, who has left an outstanding legacy for others to follow.
The 75-year-old retired senior pastor of the People’s Cathedral passed away just before 11 o’clock this morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), mere days before his 76th birthday on December 27.
Rev. Williams, who was receiving treatment for chikungunya and dengue fever, was warded in the QEH’s Intensive Care Unit for several weeks leading up to his death.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on the compound of the church this afternoon, Head of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) Bishop Gerry Seale said the passing of Rev Williams, who had served the denomination and ministered for more than 50 years, signalled the end of an era. He also described the late church leader as an incredibly gifted man of God, especially in the area of evangelism.
“I think he has left a legacy in all of our lives. I think the congregation will struggle a bit to adjust without him. But a few years ago I heard him say in one of the services, ‘even when I am dead and gone, I will still be about here’.
“I think that is true. His legacy, his influence will continue to impact this congregation and many congregations,” Seale added.
The bishop noted that he had preached in many churches where he met people who had been transformed because of Rev Williams’ ministry.
“I think his legacy will stay with us for a very long time. It will impact many lives for many years to come.”
He said that Rev. Williams, affectionately known as “Pastor”, had travelled as far as Africa and Asia, ministering to thousands.
“His passion was seeing men and women come to Christ. He always strove for excellence. You could not hang about People’s Cathedral and not realize that excellence was demanded of everybody with everything.
“In terms of how a service was conducted, the equipment, in setting up the radio station, CITA Radio, the best equipment, so you can have the best sound, because it had to be excellent.”
The PAWI Bishop said Rev. Williams, who was in active ministry for 50 years, “poured out” himself to others and with his passing, “earth will be empty” without him.
Deputy Senior Pastor at the People’s Cathedral Reverend Jewell Callender said “Pastor’s” passing would be a great loss to his congregation and the work of the Lord across the region and rest of the world.
“At the same time, while we would miss him, we do not mourn as those who have no hope, we rejoice because we recognize he is absent from the body, but present with the Lord,” Rev. Callender added.
“I believe ‘Pastor’s’ passing will be felt by the church. He has been our leader for 50 years; he has been with the ministry. He is the one who has guided us in the way in which things are done here at the church.
“We looked to him for his guidance, his leadership and his counsel and for the wealth of experience he would have gained over the years,” she said.
Rev. Callender said even though Rev. Willliams retired in 2010, the church still called on him for his expertise in certain areas because of his years of ministry.
“We will feel it deeply because we have truly looked to him over the years.”
Rev. Callender also told Barbados TODAY that the church will establish a memorial in his honour, but it was too early to give details.
She also suggested that the church on Bishop’s Court Hill may be too smal to conduct the funeral service and another venue may have to be considered.
Principal of the People’s Cathedral School Kenroy Burke, one of Rev. Williams’ students in the faith, said “today is a very hard day”.
“Pastor Holmes has played a very vital role in my life, not just as the principal of the school, but in the early days as just an ordinary teacher as well as in my pastoral ministry,” Burke said.
He said he felt extremely sad because Rev. Williams had made a great impact, not only on the lives of those at the school, but many others around the world.
“When I think of this loss, this is a colossal loss to Barbados and I would want to be the first to say that a life like this ought not be lost. I think that this man has made the impact on Barbados that will probably last some people a lifetime,” added the school principal.
Rev. Williams leaves to mourn his wife Rosie, his three sons Peter, Paul and David, and his extended family.