Eddie and Susan Sykes
Eddie and Susan Sykes served in the Bahamas, where they lived with their children Jonathan and Thomas until their return to the UK in 2013.
Amongst other things, Eddie was Pastor to a few local churches and involved in a number of social action projects. Eddie and Susan gave pastoral and other care to residents of the All Saints Community and Susan taught Grade 2 at St Andrew's School.
Read Eddie and Susan's newsletters from their time in the Bahamas:
Here are some questions we asked Eddie during his time in the Bahamas, to give you more of an idea of his work there:
In a paragraph, how would you summarise the work you are doing as a mission partner?
I am currently serving in the Nassau Circuit of Churches in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands District (BTCI) of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA).
At the Congregational level the as the minister with pastoral oversight of two growing congregations in the (MCCA) Nassau Circuit of Churches (Wesley - 220 members and Heritage of Redeeming Love - 165 members). At the Circuit level I oversee Local Preacher Training, and at the District level I am the Ministerial Training Committee Secretary. As from September 2010 I will also become the District Conference Secretary.
The main thrust of the work has been congregational development, which as a result of the 'Methodist Crisis in the Bahamas in 1991-1993', resulted in the MCCA having virtually all of its property being handed over to the newly formed schism - Bahamas Conference of Methodist Churches (BCMC). Wesley and Heritage are congregations made up of those persons who wished to remain with the MCCA. Wesley was a former warehouse - Heritage a former shop.
Since arriving in 2004 I have been able to implement the 'Disciple' programme throughout the District, and am currently involved as the Assistant Spiritual Director of the newly formed 'Bahamas Sonshine Emmaus Community'. As well as the 'usual' congregational pastoral responsibilities, I have been heavily involved in leading and organizing courses for the development of Lay Leaders as well as on-going spiritual/biblical/Methodism/stewardship/social issue related courses and studies. In the community I am involved with a group that works with and cares for those living with HIV/AIDS, and am working with persons to form an interdisciplinary NPO Foundation to further this work. Each year I take a group of young people to a UMC summer camp in the USA
What has been your greatest challenge?
At a general level, there are legal issues with regards to the 'Methodist Crisis' that remain unresolved, and even though the churches in this District have progressed since that time, it means that there is still a degree of uncertainty re: properties and funds. One does feel, also, the financial and resource pressures within the MCCA to be able to maintain its work.
At a personal level the main challenges are simply trying to meet all the demands that come with this work. Both churches are still in the process of developing their premises, and so there is much work relating to the necessary fund-raising.
There is also the challenge of helping persons to be authentic as disciples of Jesus Christ in a community which is awash with all kinds of churches that exhibit all kinds of doctrines and practices - many of which would fall into the category of 'prosperity/success gospel'.
What impact do you feel you have made?
There is always the impact one makes in the lives of individuals that one has the privilege of ministering to and with. However, at a wider level, I believe that the main impact I have made is in the area of congregational development and the introduction of training programmes and study courses as mentioned above. Also, I believe that my previous experience, both in this district and elsewhere in the world, together with the local culture and customs, has helped to bring a healthy and complementary perspective to worship and being authentic as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
How do you think God is guiding you in your work?
I believe that God has given me a passion for helping persons develop as disciples of Jesus Christ, and as such it has been with a sense of joy that I have been given opportunities to develop this work. One also feels the 'nudging of the Spirit' in the conversations that one has with colleagues and laity alike, as one learns of needs and the potential to further develop the work of the kingdom. I also feel a sense of peace that at this time in the right place to be used and guided by God.
What has surprised you most of all?
The biggest surprise, through which I find have found great encouragement, is to see how the MCCA in this District has emerged since the 'Methodist Crisis'. In 1993 there were just 10 churches, now (2010) there are 20, plus 3 new schools and a mission centre. The total membership of the District is less than 2,000 persons, but there is a resolve to continue to develop and deepen the work of God.