Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Teaching her lifelong mission


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FROM THE SMALL United Christian Brethren Church in Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church, Jeanese Badenock advanced up the ranks to membership of the International Board of the Wesleyan Church Worldwide.

For over 50 years the retired educator and committed member of the Wesleyan Holiness church has worked in different areas of that church as teacher, mentor and administrator.

Her service came to an end last year and accolades were heaped on the woman who distinguished herself locally, regionally and internationally when she was toasted at a grand farewell service here.

Jeanese grew up in a Christian home, and church was a given from early. She went to a Christian school – the Seventh Day Adventist – which is steeped in the Christian principles which she embraces. She was comfortable in the intimate setting of her Sargeant’s Village church, content to immerse her in its life, submitted to guidance from the senior members. That was until she met and got married to Neville Badenock, another Christian and Wesleyan Holiness member, who worshipped at the Brittons Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church.

It was a smooth transition when she decided to go where her husband worshipped.

“The church which I came from was small. This was a little bigger and I think I was accepted into fellowship and they treated me well.”

The necessity to adjust hardly arose because as she explained “there is not much difference . . . . The Christian Mission Church, which is the mother church, has the same doctrine as the Pilgrim Holiness or the Wesleyan Holiness Church”.

Right away she distinguished herself as a Sunday School teacher. Little wonder she was elected as district secretary of Sunday School for the Wesleyan Holiness Church, Barbados, from 1992 to 2007 and general secretary of local and general education from 1998 to last year.

She was Sunday School superintendent, church secretary, vice-chairman of the local board of administration, organist and choir director, at different points in her church career.

While she held the position of district secretary of summer school for Barbados and St Lucia, the responsibility encompassed 40 Sunday schools in Barbados and six in St Vincent. It called for visits to various Sunday schools and conducting teacher training sessions.

The term as district secretary lasted for about 15 years and was followed by election to the general board of administration of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, a position she held for 16 years, during which she was responsible for Sunday schools and Vacation Bible schools throughout the Caribbean and was expected to visit several countries. During this period she organised many regional Sunday School conventions.

She also held responsibility for curriculum development at the  Caribbean Wesleyan College in Jamaica, which meant reviewing the curriculum every year.

As a wife and mother, the dual role was a tall order and she admits she could not have managed without the support of her husband and her children – Neville Jr, a VAT tax consultant; Faye, a legal secretary; and Jeanese, a UWI lecturer.

Looking back, Jeanese still holds on to the old traditions of the Wesleyan church – she still wears her long sleeves, skirts way below the knee, and will not venture into church without a hat.

“In those early days you did not even press your hair (with the hot comb). The hair was supposed to be left natural; you were not supposed to wear an engagement ring; the length of your dress was long and the sleeves were long.”

The church’s strict dress code went hand in hand with its doctrine back then. “In those days you would know a Wesleyan or a Pilgrim Holiness person by their dress. You could always identify a Wesleyan. Nowadays times have changed.

“To me it was the system; to me it had to do with the rules and you kept the rules and you abided with the system. Besides, everybody was doing it so you did not stand out as the person who was different . . . . I am accustomed to my sleeves and my dress a certain length, and I don’t have a problem. I am comfortable and I am sorry if anybody has a problem,” she says.

It also reflects the kind of obedience to rules she sought to instil in her charges throughout her decades-long career as a teacher in the local nursery and primary school system.

Neville is also a teacher and they belong to the old school with old approaches to education that proved effective.

At age 18 she was appointed a supernumerary teacher at Westbury Infants School and continued to teach in the primary school system – at Bay Primary School for 16 years, teaching boys only for almost 14 years until girls were added to the roll; at Government Hill Nursery School where she was senior teacher for 16 years and finally at Hindsbury Primary, where she was principal for six years before retirement in 2014.

“I had 41 good years of teaching,” Jeanese confides. “As a Christian, going on to teach, I carried that same attitude, the same kind of lifestyle, and I was always pleasantly amazed how God just took me through the various levels and I did not have a problem.”

At one time on scholarship in Israel to study early childhood education, she was afforded the opportunity to explore the Christian part of her life, for which that country is the centre. She literally followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ along the Via Dolorosa, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and in Manger Square in Bethlehem on Christmas Day 1979  when she worshipped along with 36 000 pilgrims that morning.

“It is a blessing that I can scarcely describe,” she says while reflecting on the experience with a glow on her face.

Bouquets and accolades were heaped on her at a recent retirement function held at the Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church where it took all of 19 pages to list the accomplishments of this faithful Wesleyan Holiness stalwart.

After all that has been said about her contribution she adds with modesty, “I think I have done the best I could in the time I had at my disposal.”


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