The establishment of Colby House, a home for homeless boys, at Christ the King Church is one of the things Reverend Father Ivan Ranfurly Brown says is the highlight of his years of service as he celebrates his 40th anniversary of ordination to the Anglican priesthood this weekend.
Colby House was a part of social ministry at the church in Ridgeland Park where Brown served as rector for 19 years — 1998-2007. It has been expanded since he left.
“It’s such a joy when you go places and you meet a young man and he says to me, ‘I’m from Colby House.’ I think that’s my high point. The other churches I’ve done a lot of physical, some pastoral work, but I think the realization of that home was one of my high points,” said Brown.
As for what Brown would have done differently looking back over the past four decades, he said that would involve more social outreach programs that would minister and cater to the needs of underprivileged persons.
Over the decades, Brown, 64, served three parishes — the Parish of Our Lady and St. Stephen in Bimini (1980-1988); Christ the King; and St. Agnes, 2007 to present.
Brown was ordained a deacon at his home parish church on June 24, 1977 at the age of 23. He was ordained priest on the same date one year later, in 1978, at Christ Church Cathedral.
The Anglican Diocese will celebrate Brown’s anniversary, as well as the anniversaries of other priests ordained on the same date but different years, with a special Mass on Sunday, June 24.
Brown will also have his own personal celebration of this milestone on Friday night so as to not interfere with the diocese’s celebration which will entail a sung Mass at 7:30 p.m. at St. Agnes, with a community gathering with food all day Saturday in the office parking lot at St. Agnes.
“I don’t want anything formal. I just want to sit down and relax with the people of the community,” said the priest.
Brown was born on Meeting Street; he lived through the alley opposite Bethel Baptist Church for the first 11 years of his life before he passed for high school and moved to Englerston, where he remained until he entered Codrington Theological College in Barbados in 1973 to test his vocation to the sacred priesthood.
He said becoming a priest was a “realization” for him.
“The church was always a part of my life because I was always in the church. I think other persons saw that trend and encouraged me along that way. And then I offered myself to test my vocation. It was not a matter of me going off to school to become a priest. I went off to test my vocation.”
He was 18-years-old when he traveled to Barbados.
“It proved the fact that I was called in a certain way to serve God’s people — not to look holy, but to be practical about what it is to minister to people of God.”
In 1977, he graduated with a Licentiate in Theology from the University of the West Indies and a Diploma in Theological Studies from Codrington College, Barbados.
Upon his return home he was sent to pursue further studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York. He pursued urban renewal as a course of study. Working with inner city churches of Rochester New York, Brown said he was exposed to what it truly is to be involved in ministry — dealing with the homeless and the socially minimized, and discovering how best the church could respond to them.
He graduated in 1989 with a Master of Arts in Education from Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey.
Brown encourages young men to make themselves available to test their vocation to see how they feel.
“Anybody, if they’re going to be profitable in what they do, they have to enjoy what they do. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it is not your calling,” he said.
And after four decades, every sermon he’s preached has been memorable for him. He said some of the messages he preached have been received, and some had not been received.
Over the next 40 years, he wants the church to be strengthened and “be the church” — and to try to serve and please God, and nobody else.
In the meantime, he is looking forward to his 65th birthday in May 2019, because he says after that he’s gone. Regulations say he can retire then.
As for whether he’s planning a retirement cruise, Brown said his retirement plans include traveling whenever and wherever.
“I’m going on all of them [cruise], and every time there’s a trip somewhere I’m gone. I gave all my young days to the church, so my medicated days are for me,” he said.
Over the past four decades, Brown has served as chaplain to the prisons, and director of Social Services for the New Providence Central Deanery (1977-1980). He also served as youth officer (1980-1986).
In September 1996 he was appointed Canon to the Ordinary and administrative assistant to the bishop of the Diocese of the Bahamas, and in January 1998, appointed archdeacon of the East Central Bahamas. In 2010 he was transferred as archdeacon of the West Central Bahamas.
The St. Agnes rector serves as the chairman of The Bahamas Companion Relationship Committee between the Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Diocese of Southeast Florida.
He is married to Olga Maria Brown (nee Rolle); they have two sons.