[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Bishop of several West Indies islands hit by Hurricane Matthew last month has spoken of how the diocese “fared relatively well”. But Bishop Laish Boyd said that several church and school buildings were damaged and said that “the struggle is real.” In a pastoral letter read in churches in the diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands last Sunday, Bishop Boyd said that “God is mightier than Hurricane Matthew and all of the damage and displacement caused. Whatever the damage and disruption that Matthew has wrought, God can and will do ten times that amount in healing, recovery and restoration.”
Listing some of the more serious damage to churches and schools, he said that the roof of Bishop Michael School was damaged over its auditorium and classrooms; and a covered walkway collapsed.
Several churches on the island of New Providence suffered damage; including the church of the Holy Spirit, which lost its bus; St Agnes’ Church, which had damage to several windows and roof damage leading to leaking; and St Gregory’s Church, which lost its steeple.
The same fate befell the Church of the Good Shepherd at Pinder’s Point on Grand Bahama. Another Grand Bahama church, St Mary Magdalene at the island’s West End, was deluged by an eight-inch sea surge, which flooded the church. The hurricane hit the church on the evening of Thursday 6 October. By Sunday 9 October, parishioners had cleaned and prepared the church in time for the weekly mass.
The worst-hit church in the diocese was St Stephen’s at Eight Mile Rock, also on the island of Grand Bahama. The rectory lost two areas of its roof and there were many shingles off the church building. Bishop Boyd reports that there was “much water” inside both the church and the rectory.
“This is a serious blow that will take time to recover from,” Bishop Boyd said in his letter to congregations in the diocese. “As your bishop, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your neighbour is not in vain,’ and then I ask you to be steadfast.
“God is bigger than Hurricane Matthew. As we survey the devastation that Matthew brought, remember that God can do ten times that in healing, recovery and restoration. Believe me.”
The Bahamas was one of many areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. The worst hit area was Haiti – already suffering from the devastating earthquake in 2011. The south-eastern states of the US – Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas – were also affected, as was Jamaica and Cuba.