About St Andrew's Parish
The first missionary of any kind to be sent to Exuma was William Twyning who was sent there by the Society for the Propagation of The Gospel (S.P.G) in 1787. The majority of white persons were loyalist refugees and their slaves from whom Exuma held out hopes of material prosperity and success.
In 1792 an Act of the Legislature created the Harbour of Exuma into a town. The town was called George Town in honour of the British monarch of the same name. On June 17th, 1792 in a letter to the S.P.G. Mr. William Gordon reported that a few gentlemen in the Harbour of Exuma had subscribed about 100 guineas towards building a Church at Exuma.
On December 22nd, 1802, the new church in the harbor of George Town was dedicated. The church was where Reverend Daniel Warner Rose took the Negroes into the Parish church of Exuma to worship for the first time. By 1847 there was no church left in George Town so it is assumed that it fell to ruins. In 1865, under the leadership of Father Samuel Minns, Bahamian born, the second church was built. Father Minns was followed by Father Walter Sylvester Page, a deacon, in October 1874. The modern parish of St. Andrew’s is the result of the foundation which he laid and labored to maintain in the face of many obstacles and limitations. Father Page began the third St. Andrew’s Church which we know today. The church was opened for public worship on Palm Sunday, March 28th, 1885. It was consecrated by Bishop Edward Churton, the fourth Bishop of the Diocese, on December 18th, 1887. Father Page also built the Rectory on the Hill. The Hill on which the church is situated is called Kitt’s Hill.
Father Page was succeeded by Father M.J.Bywater (1887-1891).
About 1888, a parcel of land with a house upon it was purchased to be used as a church. It was vested in the Incorporated Trustees of the Church at England in the Bahamas. It was really only a wattle plaster structure with a thatch-palm roof. This church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1899. Under the Rectorship of Father C.A.L. Strombom, St. John the Baptist was rebuilt by Father Stephen Lloyd. It was consecrated by the Fifth Bishop of Nassau, Henry Norris Churton, on February 16, 1903.
At the Pond (Williams Town), the church services were held in a room which was shared with the Dissenters. The work had been neglected for sometime as Mr. Young; the Catechist had gone as a Magistrate to Rum Cay. Upon his return, Mr. Young and two others formed a committee for church work. The people at the Pond were anxious and willing to have a church of their own but they were extremely poor. However, they offered to provide labour, stones, lime and other materials. In 1888 a building was erected by Mr. Gamlen for the use of any denomination of Christians who might desire it. The place was used exclusively by the Church of England, although not furnished as a church with altar and other Liturgical appointments. In 1889, it was still so used, and the original donor expressed a wish that the building should be secured to the church. Father Lloyd rebuilt and enlarged a church at the Pond in 1893. Destroyed by the hurricane in 1926, it was not rebuilt until 1932. The present St. Mary Magdalene Church in William’s Town was built by Father Keith Cartwright and consecrated on July 20th, 1986 by the Eleventh Bishop of Nassau and the Bahamas, The Right Reverend Michael Eldon.
At Harts (Harts, and Steventon/Stephenstone though considered one settlement are really separate entities) there was a day school operated and funded by the church but Father Bywater found out that the people were unable to join in the services at church due to illiteracy. The Reverend William Henry Strombom, S.P.G. Missionary of Exuma, reported on April 13th, 1848, the completion of a small chapel, on a piece of land granted by Margaret Clarke. This was the first St. Margaret’s Church, Harts. It was still standing in 1889. The second St. Margaret’s was consecrated by Bishop Edward Churton on March 1, 1897. The first St. Margaret’s was vested in the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, Audrey George Spencer, on April 23, 1850; the Bahamas then being a part of the Jamaican Diocese.
Due to the unrelenting efforts of Mr. Passy Lloyd, a church was established in Rolleville. In April/May 1910, the Sixth Bishop of Nassau, the right Reverend Wilfred Bird Hornby, opened the new but incomplete church. Unfortunately, there is no consecration date for St. Michael and All Angels Church, Rolleville.
The church of St. Christopher’s in The Ferry of Little Exuma seems to have been built for the Fitzgerald family during the Rector ship of Father Hannah A. Marshall in 1941. In the beginning this family worshipped in their own home when it was impossible to get to William’s Town. Eventually a small chapel was constructed on their private property. St. Christopher’s still stands to this day but the few family members who remain at The Ferry often worshipped at St. Mary Magdalene Church in William’s Town.
The Church of the Holy Innocents, Ragged Island was rebuilt and renovated in 1990. The original church was built under the Rector ship of Father Floyd and was consecrated by Bishop Henry Norris Churton on February 24th, 1900.
During Father J.C.G. Wood’s (1907-1912) time, six acolytes attended the altar and burning candles on the altar were introduced.
Father Herbert W. Devall (1912-1928) introduced the Angelus. He had the church bell ring for the Angelus 3 times daily – 6 a.m., 12 noon and 6 p.m. He also built the Lady’s Chapel at St. Andrew in George Town.
On Sunday, July 2nd, 1935, Father Hannath A. Marshall arrived. The first Catechists’ Conference in the history of this Parish was held a short time after his arrival. It was a three day conference and the Catechists got to know each other for the first time. He was the first priest to have a car in this parish.
Father Foster Pestaina (1952-55) got tiles for the floor of the Lady’s Chapel, St. Andrew, George Town, and laid them himself.
Father William Thompson (1959-1961) arrived as the Priest-in-Charge of the Parish. He introduced the envelope system to the parish.
Father Glendon Brant arrived in 1964. He held the first Vestry meeting in the Parish.
In the mid-60’s transportation was getting better. Little Exuma was connected to Great Exuma by a bridge, and it was possible for a priest to travel the whole island.
Father Kirkley Sands (1973-74) set as his first job to have all the churches and other buildings repaired.
Father Delano Archer (1976-1983) arrived and re-organized the Vestry according to the rules of the Diocese and set his goal to make the parish self-supporting. In a very short time this was accomplished, but his greatest ambition was to have a Community Center, in George Town before his departure. He started the Community Center, however, it was completed by Father Keith Cartwright.
Father Keith Cartwright (1984-1992) completed the restoration by adding Sacristy, Sanctuary, St. Mary’s Chapel, Porch and Bell Tower.
Father Mark Kendall (1999-2004) built St. Michael and All Angels Church in Rolleville.
Father Mario Conliffe (2004-2011) renovated all churches in the Parish. During his tenure the school was expanded.
The Parish of St. Andrew has had many Missionaries and Priests, many buildings destroyed and rebuilt but since its birth has stood firmly and faithfully rooted in Christ.