A golden time
In a break with the solemn tradition, the launch of the season of Lent took on a more celebratory feel yesterday Sunday at St Barnabas Church, as congregants joined with family, friends and scores of other well-wishers in a very timely reflection of the sterling contribution of one of their “golden” boys.
The large gathering of mostly Anglican worshippers for the 9:15 a.m. mass also included several media colleagues –– both present and former –– and readers over the years of the journalistic writings of the Barbadian veteran Ridley Greene, who is marking his 50th year in the profession this month.
“Firstly, I thank the Almighty, with all my heart and soul, for granting me the privilege of experiencing and enjoying 50 consecutive years of media work –– beginning on February 2, 1965, at the now defunct Daily News,” said Greene, who also worked for the Barbados Advocate, but spent most of his media career at the Nation Publishing Co. Limited, before moving on to Barbados TODAY nearly two years ago.
“I thank the Almighty even more that, after all this time, I can stand today, strong and healthy, before Him and before you in this holy place of St Barnabas Church.”
In a touching tribute, the soft-spoken Greene, who also wrote a popular religious column in the Sun On Saturday under the pseudonym Pastor Brown for several years, also expressed his gratitude to the church family, not only for their kind facilitation of his golden milestone before God, but also for the part played by Reverend Oliver Haynes in honing and shaping his character in prior years.
“It would be a form that would stand me in good stead in the challenging and pressuring profession of journalism,” the 68-year-old Greene, who is also a heralded banjo player, folk singer, calypsonian and musician, told the gathering that included renowned singer/songwriter/musician Emile Straker, as well as calypsonians Destroyer, Pompey and De Cleaner, as well as Greene’s personal physician Dr Adrian Lorde.
“Reverend Haynes’ mellow but strong words of caution against the temptation to be egotistic –– and reinforced at Sunday School by Ms Taitt and Mr Harper –– have always resided with me, my having been pointed to Psalm 100:3 and 4: Know ye that the Lord he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” said Greene.
A graduate of St Barnabas Primary/Pine Primary (now known as Grantley Prescod Memorial School) and Combermere School, Greene was trained by the Washington School of Art, the London School of Journalism and Internationales Institut Fur Journalismus In Berlin.
Greene, who is one of the longest serving and most decorated journalists on the island, went on to single out a group of “very special people” without whose “professional and brotherly guidance and mentorship this grand occasion would hardly have been possible”.
“. . . Any honour you bestow on me, you equally and rightfully confer upon them. It would be an abomination for me to stand in the House of the Lord and give the impression that I did it all alone,” he said immediately before he both publicly and profoundly thanked Tony Cozier and his departed dad Jimmy Cozier, Carl Moore and Harold Hoyte, Al Gilkes, the late Denzil Agard, Ulric Rice and Robert Best, and Robert Pitcher.
“There are others; but these named gentlemen stand clearly in my mind every time.
His sterling words followed a very incisive sermon delivered by associate priest Canon Ivan Harewood,
in the absence of his son Mark Harewood, rector of St Barnabas.
Father Mark’s “legendary dad”, as he was referred to by Greene, used the occasion to remind congregants of the true meaning of the Lenten season.
He also sought to warn those who were out looking for a televangelist “to come and shake us up”.
“We need to discover for ourselves the nature of the quest we are on for the 40 days of Lent. It is not sufficient for us to make a few resolutions and then go into a place where can get a shake up. We have to follow through and it is not up to the ‘shaker-upper’, it is for us as a people to discover for ourselves the nature of the quest we are on for the 40 days of Lent,” he stressed, while also emphasizing the need for Christians to discover their true identity and to heed God’s calling in the midst of what can at times be a most trying and challenging journey.
The solemnity of the two-hour long church service was broken, if only briefly, during an uptempo, but very tasteful solo rendition of Lord I Lift Your Name On High by former Draytons Two singer Desmond Weekes –– a close friend of Greene’s –– who called on members of the congregation to sing along with him and to put their hands together.
At one point, he even got Canon Harewood to sing along with him for at least one or two stanzas.
The morning mass was immediately followed by a special anniversary brunch.