St Helena’s new Deacon, Johnny Green

22 May 2020 By Cyril (Ferdie) Gunnell

Lay Minister Jonathan Richard Mark Green (53) of St Paul’s has just been ordained a Deacon.

Bishop Dale Bowers ordained ‘Johnny’ Green during a Sung Mass and Ordination to the Diaconate, which took place in the Cathedral of St Paul Sunday afternoon, May 17.

Approximately 90 invited guests showed up to witness the event.   

This was the first ordination of a deacon in the Diocese of St Helena since Deacon ‘Bobby’ Crowie was ordained in St Mark’s Church, Longwood in March 2018.

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Bishop Dale Bowers (left) and new Deacon Johnny Green (right).

Johnny was prepared for the procedure at Farm Lodge, St Paul’s between Monday and Friday last week. The spiritual retreat included meditation and interviews by church leaders including Bishop Dale.  

Johnny became St Helena’s newest deacon last Sunday, but has not yet been licensed. Bishop Dale told the congregation he would licence Johnny among his own congregation in the parish where Johnny will officiate.

Deacons have a vital role in the life and health of the local church.

From the lectern the new Deacon thanked everyone who had assisted him “through this wonderful journey.” Special thanks were given to his wife, Debra and their son, Kristian.    

Johnny told The Sentinel that his introduction to the church was in his teenage years, when he became a member of the Church Lads Brigade – he served as an altar boy and crucifer at St Paul's Cathedral.

He travelled to Ascension Island in March 1985 to take up employment with Cable & Wireless PLC.

“During my time on the island I became a keen member of St Mary's Church,” Johnny said. “I was nominated as a PCC member and later as a Church Warden.”

In 2013, “after much thought,” Johnny decided to take on the role of Lay Minister.  

“It has never been far from my mind about moving on even further in the church, but I was also enjoying my job with SURE as a Networks Technician, which was always my priority,” he said.
In September that year Johnny was licensed as a Lay Minister by Bishop Richard Fenwick. He had received local training with Fr Don Wittich and Fr Jack Horner.  

Johnny said that he will soon start his higher certificate in theology with TEE College.   

Johnny returned to St Helena with his family in January 2018, “so that our son Kristian could continue his schooling on the island.”

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New Deacon Johnny Green and his parents Tony (left) and Olive (right).

Johnny had been transferred as a Networks Technician from Ascension and happily continued with his duties at SURE. He also continued with his ministry in various churches around the island, and grew more involved.

In November 2019 Johnny, along with Lay Minister Ernest Fritz, was given the opportunity by Bishop Dale to travel to Cape Town to attend a 'Growing the Church Training Conference.'

“This inspired me even further, and I knew that I wanted to dedicate my time to the life and work of the church,” Johnny said.

Deacon Johnny assisted Bishop Dale with the communion at the Cathedral on Sunday, May 17. As a Lay Minister, Johnny was already licensed to assist with the chalice and to preach and take funeral services.

“Since becoming a Deacon, I can now do marriages and baptisms also,” Deacon Johnny said. 

Because of the Covid-19 measures being practiced in churches currently, a “spiritual communion” took place, and the ‘sign of the peace’ was offered by waving to each other as opposed to shaking hands.  

The first hymn sung was Be Thou My Vision and the last was Be Thou the Glory. After the service had concluded people from the congregation greeted Deacon Johnny in the sanctuary.

Lay Minister Ernest Fritz of Sandy Bay had also prepared himself for ordination, but Bishop Dale on Sunday announced that Ernest had picked up an infection and been hospitalised. His ordination would be carried out later, Bishop Dale said.