The pastor was adamant – he didn’t want Pastor’s Appreciation Sabbath in October, 2017, as there were too many issues to manage after two devastating hurricanes. However, the church leaders were also resolute – they wished to express gratitude for the pastor’s service. Early in 2018, the First Elder of the Virgin Gorda Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, Orville Thompson, pulled the Church Board together, set up a committee and tasked it with organizing a Pastor’s Appreciation Service – this had to be done without the pastor’s knowledge! Another cancellation was not going to be accepted, regardless of disaster or conference calendar! The leaders selected a date and contacted the NCC Ministerial Secretary, Pastor Royston Philbert. With some shrewd rescheduling and the unwitting cooperation of Pastor Sylvester Williams, “the coast was clear.”
On Sabbath morning, April 28th, Pastor Sylvester Williams and his family arrived, expecting to be part of the scheduled Education Day activities. He was surprised to find the church packed with members and community friends – he was also astonished to see Pastor Royston Philbert, the NCC Ministerial Secretary, who would normally alert the pastor of his visits, beforehand. Imagine his greater shock when Elder Thompson began the Divine Hour Service by announcing that the church was honoring a special family and then followed up by indicating that the pastor and his family were to be escorted to reserved seats. Musical selections; a video recording of Pastor Sylvester Williams in various evangelistic modes enhanced by the song, Thank God for the Preacher; a reading of a child’s view of the pastor as a role model; and, an inspiring message, Lest We Forget, by Pastor Philbert were just some ways in which the church expressed appreciation. Tributes to Pastor and Sister Williams were offered by church members and a senior officer from the Virgin Islands Police Department. Pastor Williams and his family received gifts from the church and enjoyed the sumptuous lunch which was prepared in their honor.
A vibrant, earnest, young pastor (with a very amiable wife and lovely children) is a blessing to any church. That he is active in and positively regarded by the community are advantages, not only for himself but also for the advancement of the gospel message in Virgin Gorda. The Biblical text, 1 Timothy 3: 13, reminds us, “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” Pastor Sylvester Williams stands well in the Virgin Islands and is showing himself worthy of sincere appreciation. We pray that God will lead him to higher ground, day by day.