The lost treasure of the United Church in Jamaica
The life of the late Reverend Henry Earl Thames, an individual recently described by the United Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands as a self-effacing individual and a treasure of the (United) Church, was celebrated during a thanksgiving service last month at the Webster Memorial United Church in Kingston. Thames was born on October 27, 1936 in Kingston. He attended the London University as an external student, following his graduation from the Heroes Circle-based Wolmer’s Boys’ School.
He was later named Jamaica’s Rhodes Scholar in 1959, before attending Oxford University.
Thames was ordained as a minister in 1964 and was remembered by family and friends as a committed servant of Christ. He was a co-founder of the National Prayer Breakfast. His longtime friend, Frank Lopez, told the congregation that even as he and Thames’ family members mourned, they ought to rejoice, as Thames was a gift from God.
“God has used you to influence so many lives and the joy of my life. He was not only my pastor; he was my friend from beginning to end. I cannot tell you how much my knees buckled when I got the call up in Toronto that Mass Earl had passed. The only joy now is that he is in a much better place. Even as we mourn, we have to rejoice that he was a gift from God,” Lopez said.
His baby sister, Maxine, said: “Earl has left a lasting legacy because of all the lives he has influenced, and so he will never really die. He lived a full, happy and dedicated life, of service, which included many fun times. He will live on in our hearts and memories. Even though his heart is dead, for You (Lord), it was a beautiful place, without suffering, doing what he loved, being with young people an sharing prayers, lessons and fun times. We take comfort in knowing, that he died in that way.”
Alongside being pastor of the United Church, Thames served two times as a moderator in the church.
He was also a lecturer at the International University of the Caribbean. Thames was said to have been influential in uniting the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches in 1965.
Pastor Lloyd A. Cooke said Thames, who was a learned and urbane Christian, was an icon that the United Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands had lost.
“Rev Earl Thames was a learned ... urbane Christian gentleman who never flaunted his intellectual prowess nor his deep spirituality. Earl Thames was simple in his lifestyle and therefore very approachable by all persons. He will be, and is already being, deeply missed.”
Musical tributes were done by the Andrew’s Memorial and the Ridgemount United Church choirs. The sermon was delivered by the Rt Rev Christopher Mason.
Thames died on August 11.
The Reverend Nigel Pusey (foreground) escorts family members of the late Rev Henry Earl Thames at a service of thanksgiving held September 6 at the Webster Memorial United Church in St Andrew.