Remembering Pastor Silas Napoleon McKinney
The recent passing of Pastor Silas Napoleon McKinney, aged 89, has left an indelible void among Seventh-day Adventists, and Bahamians and Jamaicans in general. Having served the church for over 40 years, Pastor McKinney has touched the lives of thousands of individuals at all levels of the church. As I reflect on this outstanding preacher, evangelist and church leader, the following come to mind:
The Vibrant Church Leader
As a former member of the former West Indies Union Executive Committee, I had the privilege to witness Pastor Silas McKinney in action as an effective chairman. There were few delays or unnecessary drawn-out discussions and debates. He surely knew how to keep a committee going without giving the appearance of rushing the discussion or even denying wise contributions. His sense of humour, coupled with a knowledgeable grasp of church policies and operations, allowed for smooth and lively meetings. He was passionate about his church and equally so about the then West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University). He fearlessly but tactfully and respectfully led the charge in securing additional funding that would normally revert to the local fields from the Inter-American Division, to be given to the college, in order to expand and ready that institution for university status. It is no wonder that Dr. Herbert Thompson, former president of Northern Caribbean University, remembers him for the magnanimous support given to West Indies College, as well as the significant role he played in moving the college to university status. Additionally, while Pastor S. N. McKinney could be lively in articulating his positions, he did so with great respect for church leaders at all levels. He was a team player.
Without question, he was a caring and thoughtful administrator. Who can forget the bold approach of effecting significant salary increases for all church workers in Jamaica at a time when the local economy was greatly challenged? Nevertheless, the increases were voted and field leaders took on the task of promoting faithfulness and most, if not all of them, realized percentage increase in their giving. Indeed a visionary leader!
The Passionate Evangelist
As an evangelist, Pastor McKinney, along with his companion Pastor L. V. McMillan, formed a duo known as Mac and Mac. Together under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, highly influenced by the approach and style of the late Evangelist E. E Cleveland, they pioneered the work of public evangelism in the Bahamas, thus increasing the membership noticeably and establishing churches. Many members can attribute their spiritual birth through one of these preachers. With the support of Pastor McKinney, conference president, Pastor L. V. McMillan conducted the New Providence Crusade, in 1976, which resulted in the largest reaping at that time and the formation of the New Providence Seventh-day Adventist Church. Three members of this new group became pastors.
Of course, Pastor McKinney’s evangelistic skills led him to other places namely Jamaica, the birth place of his dear wife Ruth of 60 years. After serving as secretary of the then West Indies Union for several years, he returned to the Bahamas and accepted a district in Freeport where he continued the work of an evangelist and mentoring young pastors. Later, while he served as union president in Jamaica, many churches were established and hundreds of individuals were added to the body of Christ.
The Consummate Socializer
Among the leaders that I have met in my life time, Pastor McKinney stands out as one who knew how to fellowship. He enjoyed a tasty fish meal and mastered the art of separating the bones from the flesh in a way that made one chuckle and marvel. During moments of fellowship and laughter, he could debate his favourite subjects of theology, politics and history. I recall as a young pastor being invited to accompany the then conference president, Pastor Jeremiah Duncombe, to Miami over 20 years ago, with the understanding of going off to purchase a video projector for the then Bahamas Conference (the first video projector for the conference). However, upon my arrival in Miami, I was asked to chauffeur a team of union and field leaders from Miami to Orlando to visit Pastor Tim Walters, former union president, who was convalescing at a nursing home at the time. The three hour drive was kept lively and exciting with Pastor McKinney leading in the discussion and debates for almost the full duration of the trip. Indeed he was a man of laughter, fellowship and life. It could be said in some ways, he lived for the moment. When you met Pastor McKinney and encountered him, you never forgot him, for he was such an engaging individual. Therefore, my colleagues and I, as well as our families and the entire union staff, pay tribute to him and continue to offer our prayerful support to his wife and children.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Friday, July 29, 2016, 6 p.m. at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church, 135 Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, Nassau. Homily: Pastor Leonard Johnson (president, Atlantic Caribbean Union)
FUNERAL SERVICE: Sunday, July 31, 2016, at 10 a.m. at the Hillview Seventh-day Adventist Church. Homily: Pastor Peter Joseph (Son-in-law)