By Stephen Kangal
January 15, 2017
Peaceful and restful, Aramalaya Church where the PCTT founder, Rev John Morton established his second operational base to spread the Presbyterian brand of protestant evangelism/education to North and Central Trinidad was eminently qualified to host the 8th January 2017 Service of Grateful Praise and Thanksgiving to commemorate and launch the 149th Anniversary Celebrations of the Founding of the Presbyterian Church of T&T (PCTT).
Rev Clifton Mathura was Leader of Worship.
This Communion Service was well supported. Aramalaya, a comfortable idyllic spiritual sanctuary, well adorned, functional and immaculate in décor and appointment was filled to capacity with a glitzy flock of clergy, elders, church workers and simple Presbyterian loyalists. The mellifluous and inspirational anthems/singing rendered by the composite 150th Anniversary Choir conducted by Organist Ms Zara Lachkan supported by Dr Satanand Sharma were the icing on the Anniversary cake that appeared to be missing from the proceedings.
A Song-spirational Session was initiated by a Group from the Valencia Presbyterian Church (below) led by Aerron Harridan that ignited the tone for the subsequent proceedings.
An interactive format distinguished the impressive and packed Programme. It was instrumental in mobilizing congregational participation, inclusion and involvement in the Prayers of Thanksgiving, Intercession, Approach and Confession and the Statement of Faith led by Rev Damien Sieunarine.
At the end of these prayerful and pertinent interventions printed in the programme, the faithful present got a succinct synopsis of the principal driving historical and spiritual perspectives that underpinned the progressive development and expanding geographical outreach and mission of the PCTT. That mission was aimed initially at evangelizing, emancipating and educating the then colonial statal- neglected and rural -isolated grass- roots of the indentured laboring class beginning in 1868 at Iere Village in Princes Town- some twenty-three years after Indian Arrival in 1845.
No land-mark event such as this one, celebrating and honouring the early foundations and the overcoming the language challenges that confronted the early pioneering Canadian missionaries can be complete and linguistically-correct without invoking the oriental-flavoured Yishu bhajans that formed an essential component of the early worship services geared to appeal to the indentures and their children. A Group (shown below) conducted by Rev Kelvin Sookhansingh from the Diamond Region provided a nostalgic recreation of that game-changing Hindi Bhajan era. It is slowly losing its appeal in the PCTT. It must be noted that the first Hindi Press in Trinidad was established at Aramalaya by the Mortons.
The Service was also punctuated by a video message of greetings received from the Moderator of Synod, the Rt Rev. Annabell Lalla- Ramkhelawan who is at present pursuing theological studies in the USA.
In her absence the acting Moderator, The Rt Rev.Brenda Bullock delivered an appealing, values-studded 149th Anniversary Message to the faithful. She challenged them to create a difference in the life of the Church as it turns 150 in 2018. She exhorted us to redefine ourselves, our mission and our relationship with the God who we serve and towards one another by spreading the gospel of humility as the panacea for building a second Republican fellowship. We must make that qualitative leap as a Church from childhood to adulthood in our beliefs, mission and Presbyterian value systems to foster and promote a new plateau of caring, bridge-building interpersonal relations by relinquishing arrogance, she advised.
The 150th Anniversary Logo (below) was launched at the Service. An expose of the several symbolic elements and their significance sewn and woven into the final design but faithful nevertheless to the original PCTT logo was provided.
The Commemorative Thanksgiving Service ended with the singing of The Theme song composed for the 150th Anniversary of the PCTT after which a fellowship interface was held at the historic Morton House facility.
Happy 149th Birthday Greetings to all Presbyterians!
Thank you for having made and continuing to make a great difference to the civilization, diversity and strategic human resource capital of Mother T&T!