Pastor takes Church money to help students….
By Ms. Hadassah Hall
Nassau, Bahamas – Being thy brother’s keeper has taken on new meaning at the Church of God of Prophecy, Seven Hills, as Senior Pastor, Bishop Clarence N. Williams recently walked into The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and paid the full tuition and fees for members who are students.
Presently, there are 11 students from the church attending BTVI, but for the past 21 years, the church has sponsored scores of members who attend BTVI through its tithing account. Recipients are expected to pass each of their courses with at least a ‘C’.
“It is a part of our God-given mandate to assist the congregants. It is scripturally-based. We even help with the payment of The Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and The Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams. We also buy books,” said Bishop Williams.
Bishop Williams has sought no publicity on what he and the congregation have done over the past two decades; however, once approached, he was quick to recognize the value of the Good Samaritan gesture.
“I’ve seen the benefits. I see BTVI directly related to the employment of The Bahamas and as a mechanism for anti-crime fighting,” noted Bishop Williams, who founded the church over 25 years ago.
He was proud to note that some of his members who attended BTVI have gone on to become plumbers, electricians, masons, construction workers, carpenters and office managers among other vocations.
One of this semester’s recipients is Heidi’Jo Meyer, a 17-year-old from Nicholls Town, Andros. She has begun studies towards an Associate of Applied Science degree in Office Administration and has expressed her gratitude to the church family.
“It’s a privilege. All I can do is my part, making my sponsor proud. I want to go above and beyond the passing grade,” said Heidi’Jo who graduated from North Andros High with a 3.1 cumulative GPA.
The very soft-spoken Heidi’Jo added that having done her research of post-secondary institutions in New Providence, BTVI is the best fit for her.
“Because I grew up on the island, I wanted to be in a close-knit community. I’m quite content and excited,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Williams who is also a Chartered Accountant and Public Accountant, said $6000 was the highest amount the church has paid to BTVI for a semester. He is adamant that, “All Pentecostal churches should be involved in post-secondary academic pursuits.”
Questioned as to those who may have decided to join his church simply for the outpouring of financial support, Bishop Williams responded: “It’s not a significant factor. We can absolve that without any difficulty. We don’t even mind because it’s one person not walking the streets or contributing to crime.”