Mennonite Church in Trinidad now “totally local”

Posted on February 4, 2011 by VMMissions Staff

Borrowing from a popular local slogan, Pastor Ganesh Kalloo described the signficance of the day at Sangre Grande Mennonite Church in Trinidad as “Totally Local.” On Sunday morning, January 9, the Mennonite Church of Trinidad and Tobago (MCTT) commissioned and installed the first Trinidadian as their conference overseer. Rawl Gunpath had pastored for many years in three churches, Charlieville Mennonite Church, Esperanza Mennonite Church and Diego Martin Mennonite Church. Rawl also works as a trained counselor. Rawl and his wife Linda have two daughters, Sydni and Zion. The theme of the entire service was, “To Be Like Him.”

For many years Trinidadians have been the primary pastors in congregations with VMMissions lending assistance from time to time as requested. Several years ago MCTT embarked on a deliberate effort to discern and call out a local overseer. This past year David and Shirley Yoder gave guidance to this effort. Paul and Evelyn Kratz and Richard and Margaret Keeler also gave encouragement and guidance along the way. In the end, though, the decisions and the results were “totally local.”

The Sangre Grande sanctuary and overflow wings were full on Sunday morning, with other congregations cancelling their
services to support this event. Ken and Twila Brunk from Williamsburg, Virginia, came especially to express their support. Ken and Twila had pastored the Gunpaths in earlier years and Ken had baptized Linda. Ken gave very meaningful words of blessing.

Loren and Earlene Horst also attended and Loren shared the sermon of the morning, “So that the World May Know.” He noted that this day had been the subject of yearnings and prayers for many years. “For many years many prayers expressed the desire for the Lord to raise up local leaders so that the church truly takes root in local soil. Over many years God’s faithfulness has been evident.”

David Yoder symbolized the transfer of overseer responsibilities from himself to Rawl through the presentation of an oil lamp as an illustration of the light of the gospel shining out through MCTT and through Rawl’s ministry. David and Shirley Yoder were then surprised with recognition, expressions of appreciation and gifts for their year of service in Trinidad. They returned home to Pennsylvania on January 17.

Trinidadian hospitality was evident through warm expressions of fellowship and a wonderful noon meal. In true Mennonite fashion, people seemed reluctant to leave and lingered for a long time. It is evident that the Mennonite Church of Trinidad and Tobago has gone “totally local.”

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Loren Horst (left) with Rawl Gunpath and Ken Brunk. Courtesy of Loren Horst

Gathered for prayer: Ramesh Jaimani, Richard Keeler, Wade Seukeran, Deolal Ramdial, Rawl & Linda Gunpath with Sydni and Zion, Navin Benny, David Yoder, Loren Horst. Courtesy of Loren Horst

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