An Honor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church

An Honor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Following the announcement that I was one of the twenty-six Bahamians on the annual Queen’s New Year’s Honours list, I received many calls and notes of congratulation. Named as one of two recipients for the honor, Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) for services to the church, I have been asked the meaning of CMG. What does the award mean? Like many of you, when first contacted, I had no clue, so I inquired and researched online.
 

The Meaning of CMG
CMG stands for “The Order of St Michael and St George,” and “is awarded to men and women of high office, or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country.” It was “Instituted in 1818 by the Prince Regent (later George IV), the Order of St Michael and St George was intended to commemorate the placing of the Ionian Islands under British protection.” Originally it was intended for distinguished citizens of the islands, and also of Malta.
According to Wikipedia, “The Order has three classes. These are:
       Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GCMG)
       Knight Commander (KCMG) or Dame Commander (DCMG)
       Companion (CMG)”
It should be noted that it is the third one or lowest that is applicable in this instance. It does not involve any knighthood; though a friend wrote inquiring about the title “Sir,” it is not applicable. Quite frankly, I would be reluctant to accept that award at this stage in my life and ministry. Nevertheless, I humbly accepted the CMG honour at a ceremony on Wednesday, June 22, at Buckingham Palace in London.

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Attributed to God
            When I pause and consider my humble beginning and upbringing from time to time, I can only say, “Thank You Lord.” Born on Polemus Street in the heart of the inner city of Grant’s Town in Nassau, I never imagined being a leader of a church, certainly not the Seventh-day Adventist Church, since I was a Baptist at the time. The most I knew about Adventists was mainly through a friend. We were both packing boys at a local food supermarket. As I recalled, he would leave work a certain time on Friday evenings and not show up on Saturdays. Later, I would come to realize why. Nevertheless, the announcement of this award reminds me of many persons God placed in my path to nurture me including my late parents, my dear wife of 32 years, and those in and outside the church. Therefore, this high and significant recognition without question must be attributed to God and by extension, His church. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has afforded me numerous opportunities to travel the world ministering especially in the Bahamas, Cayman and Turks and Caicos islands, as well as serve on boards and committees at all levels of the church. As for my country, one of the most memorable opportunities I value was to preach at the Bahamas’ 39th Anniversary of Independence. To God be glory!
 
The Blessings of Others
            In my attempt to understand this recognition, my research has led me to realize that many Adventists around the globe have received similar awards. To explain, former president of West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Patrick Allen, now Sir Patrick Allen, was knighted on June 12, 2009, and Elder Jan Paulson, former GC president was awarded the Norwegian ‘Order Of Merit’ for ‘Service For The Good Of Humanity’ in 2012. Additionally, Queen Elizabeth II presented Joan Saddler, a member of the Hampstead Adventist Church, with the Order of the British Empire on December 6, 2007 for her volunteer work “with mentoring minorities and influencing social health policy.” These three examples coupled with others including two of the former leaders within the Bahamas, who also received high honours, have helped me to appreciate the position of the church toward such awards. As such, I was not surprised when I first learnt of the award and shared the news with Elder Leito, our Division president; he readily congratulated me and encouraged my acceptance of the same.

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The Greatest Award
            And so as I reflect on the rare privilege accorded my wife and me to visit Buckingham Palace a few days ago to receive my award, I determined to prepare for the day when I shall receive the greatest award issued by God Himself saying, “Well done good and faithful servant -enter into the joy of thy Lord.”  What a day that will be! Until then, you and I must keep on serving humanity and remain faithful to the mission of the church, which is to seek and save mankind through the gospel of Jesus Christ.