Brown readying to head off into the wild, wild west
Anglican priest Father I. Ranfurly Brown, 65, officially retires on July 31; on Sunday, July 28, he will preach his final sermon, the message that he says he’s still struggling with, before he heads off into the “wild, wild, west” – as he terms it – “riding off to peace and happiness and all them good, good stuff”.
But before that happens, the celebrations for the priest of 41 years have already begun with a retirement luncheon and concert at the Baha Mar Convention Center, dubbed “An Afternoon of Elegance”, at which American gospel music composer and performer Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers performed. Brown and those that attended to wish him well were treated to Carr’s music, which is an interesting blend of traditional gospel compositions and vocals, elements of R&B, jazz soul, blues and the distinct modern harmonies and singing styles found in urban contemporary gospel.
“The celebrations were quite something else,” said Brown. “I never thought of anything like it. They’re saying they had over 1,000 people on Sunday, and I’m just grateful. I never imagined something like that would happen for me… I never considered it. I just wanted to be a priest who is available to the people.”
Brown was impressed with Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers.
“The choir was very good. And I’m even grateful because of them, because I don’t know how the organizers were able to get them to come, and I’m thankful to them as well.”
Brown’s retirement caps 41 years of service in the priesthood.
Looking back at the highs and lows over the four decades, he said the high times for him were when he was able to help people.
“That was my joy – nothing else.”
As for any do-overs, he said he doesn’t have any.
“I did according to the will of God, that’s why I’m always in problems, because I’m not doing what people want me to do, but I’m doing what I believe is God’s call to me.”
As for how he wants to be remembered, Brown said: “He came. And he was a full servant to everybody.”
Brown said God has been good to him, and as he looks back over the decades, he said when people thought they had him down, God brought him through, and for that he was grateful.
“I have been privileged to only have served in three churches unlike others who have served in five or six or seven, so that’s a testimony in itself. There has to be something that I was doing that allowed me to stay in places for so long.”
Brown served at Our Lady and St. Stephen in Bimini (1980-1988); Christ the King, Ridgeland Park (1988-2007); and St. Agnes (2007-2019 and retirement).
He counts among his greatest achievements the establishment of Colby House, a home for homeless boys at Christ the King Church.
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,” Brown told The Nassau Guardian in an earlier interview. “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.”
Brown was ordained a deacon 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.
He 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 has 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.”
During his 40th year celebration in 2018, Brown said his retirement plans include traveling whenever and wherever.
“I’m going on all of them (cruises), and every time there’s a trip somewhere, I’m gone,” he told The Nassau Guardian. “I gave all my young days to the church, so my medicated days are for me,” he said.
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 served 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) and they have two sons.
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