It is the custom in many of our churches to have a renewal of the baptismal covenant at Easter, particularly if we hold the Easter vigil. We also renew our own covenant at baptisms themselves, at services of confirmation and at other festivals during the Church year. This covenant also unites us as an Anglican Communion.
Typical of Anglicanism, some of the promises are uniquely Christian. Yet others extend far beyond any one denomination or any one religion. I’m thinking especially of two of these: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Living up to those promises can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are people to whom we can look for inspiration or encouragement, who live out these promises either explicitly or implicitly, at times professing them, at other times, just living them. And once in a while, we can even offer support to those people and thus, in a small way, participate in their work or service.
One such person is Bill Pardy. Bill was formerly the mayor of Pasadena, on the west coast of Newfoundland, and then worked for various agencies, including the United Nations, which led him to several countries in the world. He has ended up in The Gambia, a small, poor country in West Africa.
Every day, Bill feeds many people with breakfast, and even more most evenings for dinner, and children all the day long. He helps people with food, medical assistance, school fees and sometimes accommodations. He supports about 10 children in school thanks to donations from the Humber Rotary Club in Corner Brook and assistance from other friends and family. He provides moral support to many more. He has two children living with him, a boy of 6 and a girl of 7, and at times another 6 year old.
He provides basic medicines to many local people and is called upon to treat wounds on children and adults alike, sending the more serious ones to a local clinic. Local hospitals are so poorly supported, people often have to buy their own medicine or they go to him for dressing changes.
Our Tuesday morning Bible study group here in Pasadena made a modest contribution to him. Bill spoke of this past year, and described some of the deprivation of this past year due to COVID-19, “with everything shut, there is no work and as a result, no money for anyone (here normally over 50% live on $1.25 per day). They did have a food giveaway early on where most families got a 1⁄2 bag of rice and about 25 kilos of sugar”. Another group, Our Community Cares Online Auction, will also raise money to support Bill and his efforts.
In spite of the challenges, he was able to say, “overall, while it has been difficult it has been fulfilling.”
To me, his actions epitomize loving your neighbour as yourself and respecting the dignity of every human being.