On behalf of the Board of Directors and members of the Secretariat of Council for World Mission, I pay tribute to the life and legacy of the Rev Earle Thames and offer sincere condolences to his family and the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) on his passing.
Rev Earle Thames, an outstanding minister of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, was called home from the toil and snares of the world on 11th August 2016. He was an example of unqualified devotion and unfettered determination for the cause of God’s mission in the world and of the Church’s involvement therein. He has served the Church in various capacities including that of Moderator of the Synod and the Church’s representative on several ecumenical bodies including the Council for World Mission.
Rev Thames was part of the historic 1975 meeting of the London Missionary Society in Singapore where the ideological shift in its missional understanding took place, changing the character of the once Eurocentric and donor-recipient model of mission to the present partnership model in which every member church is recognised as having something to give and in need of the gifts and resources of others in equal measure. Two years later, in 1977, the Council for World Mission was born and Rev Thames attended that first meeting in London, representing the then United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. In that regard he was the first Jamaican to be appointed member of the governing board of the Council for World Mission.
Rev Thames was an embodiment of the missionary fervour of sending and receiving missionaries (now partners in mission) “from everywhere to everywhere”. He was restless in his advocacy for his own church to share this missionary spirit and participated in paving the way for persons from different parts of the CWM family to serve the UCJCI. He equally pushed the church to becoming a sending church, which saw people like Maitland Evans, Verna Cassells, Roderick Hewitt, Norbert Stephens and Norman Francis serving on the international platform.
CWM is grateful for the contribution that the Rev Earle Thames has made to the missionary movement over the years; for his passionate agitation for the missionary zeal to be caught by churches; and for promoting mission beyond the confines of one’s denomination as critical to the very identity and vocation of the church.
We bid farewell to a great friend and colleague in ministry, confident that his soul is at rest and that perpetual light shines on him.
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace (The book of Wisdom 3: 1-3).
The General Secretary,
Council for World Mission