The devoted life of service by the late Canon Weeville Gordon to the Church, Kingston’s inner-city communities and the nation was recently celebrated by members of St. Matthew’s Church, Allman Town, where he was Rector for nearly 40 years.
A plaque in memory of the Canon was unveiled by his widow, Ellonia and daughter, Dr. Angela Gordon-Stair at a Festal Evensong on September 21 – the Feast Day of the Patron Saint, St. Matthew.
The Rev. Fr. Whitson Williams, Rector of St. Matthew’s Church, was Officiant at the Service; and the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, was the Preacher. The Kingston College Chapel Choir led the singing.
Bishop Thompson used as his Sermon text the passage in John 13:3-5 in which Jesus set the ultimate example of loving service when he washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper – a task that was usually performed by servants.
He noted that it was clear from the gospels that Jesus identified himself not as a king or ruler, but as a servant; and he instructed his disciples to do likewise. Continuing, Bishop Thompson said service for Christians was not an option, but a way of demonstrating who we are through our love and care for others.
He stated that the Gospel could only be good news if it addressed and affirmed our humanness; and he suggested that this understanding had helped to make Canon Gordon’s ministry engaging, as people encountered his humanity before anything else.
“If we are not acting as midwives for the transformation of the life of others, if we are not functioning in a manner that can elicit acts of faith from those we serve, then we must ask ourselves in whose name and in whose interest are we serving?” Bishop Thompson challenged.
Asserting that “effective service can only come from a humble heart,” he stated that throughout history, the witness of the Church was often compromised as it competed with the systems of the world for influence and political power. And he pointed to the need “to radically readjust that image, to become a humble church.”
“The mission of the Church – and of individual Christians must find expression, not in domination or standing in judgment, but in acts of kindness, friendship and humble service. This is the Christian way – the way of self-giving. Such a witness has changed many a life,” Bishop Thompson said.
He observed that servanthood was the hallmark of Canon Gordon’s self-understanding as Christian. “… We must honour him, because in so many ways, his long and devoted life of service was iconic,” the Bishop declared.
Canon Gordon was ordained to the priesthood in 1953. He was appointed Rector of St. Matthew’s Church in 1963 and continued as pastoral leader until his retirement in December 2002. This outstanding clergyman who served as Secretary of the Anglican Church’s Diocesan Synod and also represented the Church at the regional level, is remembered, in particular, for his service in Allman Town where the Church established a vibrant outreach programme. Several School Boards and organisations in the city of Kingston also benefitted from his involvement.
The Rev. Canon Gordon, who was appointed Custos Rotulorum of Kingston in 1991 and Deputy Governor General in 1994, was awarded the Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) in 1994 by the Government of Jamaica. On his retirement, he was presented with the Keys to the City of Kingston; and Hitchen Street on which St. Matthew’s Church is located, was also renamed Weeville Gordon Street in recognition of his work in the community.