Nassau, The Bahamas – Bahamians gathered at Christ Church Cathedral Tuesday, February 15 to honour the life of the late Right Reverend Michael Hartley Eldon. During a service of thanksgiving he was recognised as a loyal, forgiving, outstanding educator, teacher and family man, and one who believed in Bahamians.
Bishop Eldon, 79, served the Anglican Diocese for some 50 years as a priest, of which 25 was as a bishop. He was the first Bahamian Bishop of the Diocese, then known as Nassau and The Bahamas including the Turks and Caicos Islands. He also served as a teacher and assistant master at St. John’s College. He died on February 7 after a long illness.
Among those attending was Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes; Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, members of the Cabinet, parliamentarians, clergy of the Anglican faith and other denominations, senators, senior Government officials, justices, students, teachers and administrators of Anglican schools.
The service was officiated by Rev’d Dr. the Hon. John Holder, Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados; the Rt. Rev’d Laish Boyd Sr., Bishop of the Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Most Rev’d Drexel W. Gomez, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Rt. Rev’d Gilbert Thompson, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands along with other bishops.
Tributes were given by Sir Arthur Foulkes, T. Baswell Donaldson, chairman of the Council of the College of The Bahamas; and Rev’d. John Holder. Music was provided by the Diocesan Youth Ensemble led by Kaylen Jervis and a combined choir directed by Adrian Archer. Organists were Dr. Sparkman Ferguson and Fr. Fred Fleisher.
A colour party of officers of the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces escorted the pallbearers who lifted the wooden coffin on their shoulders bearing the Bishop’s body into the Cathedral. The pallbearers comprised reverend gentlemen of the Anglican Church.
The Governor-General said Bishop Eldon’s passion for education involved considerably more than preparing students to make a living, but inspiring them to make “lives worth living”.
He said Bishop Eldon dedicated himself to national service as a patriot and public voice for human equality and social justice.
“Bishop Eldon understood that education was fundamental for developing the people of a country he loved,” said Sir Arthur. “He was a faith-filled shepherd and a conscientious citizen who brought his values to the work of the church and his partnership with the state in pursuit of common good.”
Bishop Boyd in his sermon described Bishop Eldon as a “special” individual who loved people, had many gifts and possessed an endearing personality.
He urged the congregation to pursue things that make for peace and not to waste time with division by failing to support others and not being a team player.
“Pursue your dreams and stand by the things you believe in. Be governed by the principals that you know to be sure and true,” said Bishop Boyd.
Bahamians and tourists lined the streets of downtown Nassau to catch a glimpse as Bishop Eldon’s body travelled in a procession led by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, Anglican Church organisations, bishops and priests among others to St. Mary’s Church in Virginia Street where a short service followed. His body will be cremated at a later date.