By: Hayden McKenna and Shelley Lyons
The University of the Southern Caribbean deeply mourns the passing of a stalwart supporter of our institution, who in her adult life and fruitful career, was exemplary and consistent in her unalloyed dedication to the cause of Christian education, holistic living, service to others, the love of family and the enabling of righteousness.
Shirley Ann Martinborough was born to Maisey and Gordon Martinborough Snr. in the colony of British Guiana (now the Co-operative Republic of Guyana) on Tuesday, 4th July, 1939.
In 1959, Shirley travelled to Trinidad and Tobago with her brother Gordon Jnr. and her fiancé Roy Israel McGarrell, to study on the campus of Caribbean Union College. This campus was chosen by the indisputable hand of providence to be the storage, which in the fullness of time, would receive the largest deposits of her future professional contributions. At Caribbean Union College, she completed an Associate of Arts Degree in Secretarial Science in 1961.
She returned to British Guiana in 1961 and served as an office secretary at the Guyana Mission of SDA in Georgetown from 1961 to 1963.
On Monday, 25th June, 1962 she married her beloved Roy. This happy union would produce children, Andre (deceased) Fern and Faith-Ann.
From 1963 until 1969, she served as an elementary school teacher at Wismar, Upper Demerara River, and at New Amsterdam, Berbice. Guyana’s national independence in May of 1966 met her as an open-handed patriot serving her country in this noble vocation.
With the introduction of the Bachelor of Theology degree at Caribbean Union College, Shirley’s husband Roy Israel McGarrell enrolled in the first cohort of the programme. Shirley accompanied him to CUC and was asked to serve as the college’s Dean of Women from 1970 to 1972.
The McGarrells returned to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in 1970 and Shirley McGarrell returned to her former position as an office secretary at the Guyana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists. With the elevation of Pastor Roy McGarrell to the presidency of the Guyana Conference in 1976, Mrs. Shirley McGarrell carried her elegance, grace, and preparedness to the role of first lady and shepherdess of what was then the newest conference in the Caribbean Union, setting the bar very high for all of her successors.
In 1980, amidst a period of great theological turmoil in the global Adventist Church, the McGarrells left Guyana to further their education at Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan, USA. There, Shirley completed a Baccalaureate and Master of Arts degree in English, in 1983 and 1985 respectively. On this sojourn at Andrews University, she also had opportunities to use and develop her professional skills. She was privileged to serve in secretarial, tutorial and instructional roles.
In 1988, Mrs. McGarrell returned to Caribbean Union College, where she served as Chairperson of the English Department from 1988 to 1994, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences from 1995 to 1998, Vice President for Academic Administration from 1998 to 2001, Interim President from January 2002 to December 2002, Vice President for Academic Administration from 2003 to 2005 (during which time Caribbean Union College began its transition to university status), and finally as Vice President for General Administration from 2005 until her retirement in 2011. While ascending a creditable flight of accomplishments at CUC/USC, Mrs. McGarrell successfully completed a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, with an Advanced Cognate in English, in 2000.
Dr. McGarrell’s achievements as a faculty member and administrator at CUC/USC are nothing short of inspiring. They include:
- Establishing Alpha Mu Gamma, the first international chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honor Society), which she initiated and launched on the island of Trinidad and Tobago.
- Founding the first Writing Center on the campus of Caribbean Union College.
- Being the first woman to serve as Dean, Vice President for Academic Administration, Vice President for General Administration, and (Interim) President.
- Ushering in the early stages of the transition from CUC to USC, during her interim Presidency.
- Setting up various committees to continue the efforts towards the transition of CUC from college to university.
- Chairing the committee that created the present USC School Song and making a significant contribution to the lyrics.
- Teaching: Freshman Composition, Foundations of Curriculum Studies, Linguistics, Literature of the English Bible, Milton, Research Methods, and Thesis Preparation courses and more.
- Serving on and participating in numerous academic committees, accreditation site visits, and boards.
- Developing several short-term projects and successfully completing the refurbishing of the previous auditorium, extending the facilities of the Music room and the Theology Department, and constructing a new Physics laboratory.
- Constituting the Land Committee which developed the proposed layouts for land use and new dormitories on the campus.
- Recognizing the need to make CUC relevant with regard to new teaching, ensuring a new website was developed, with improved Internet access.
For these accomplishments and much more, Dr. Shirley McGarrell has received recognition for outstanding service, which include:
- Being named in Andrews University’s 100 Women of the Century in 2002.
- Having the USC campus wide Future Leaders’ Debate Competition being named in her honour, in 2014 and,
- A Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of the Southern Caribbean on the occasion of its 94th anniversary in 2021.
As a prolific writer, Dr. Shirley McGarrell has authored eight books in the scholarly, devotional, literary and experiential genres including Mouthfuls of Joy for Today, Rivulets of Patience for Today, Capsules of Time for Today, Debate on the Teaching of Literature: A Caribbean Viewpoint, and Awesome God—Little Miss Dolly. Her ruminations also appear in magazines and journals such as the Journal of Adventist Education, Tertiary Thoughts, Christ in the Classroom, and Shepherdess International. Perhaps her greatest labour of love as a writer was her 2010 publication sympathetically titled Living With A Man Named Roy: A Legacy of Love.
Dr. McGarrell was an extraordinary and compassionate teacher and life-model to her students and a standard-bearer to her colleagues. Her interactions with all inevitably left an ineradicable mark. But, to her students, especially her female students, she exemplified refinement and style, always dainty, but detailed and determined. As a lecturer, there was always a spiritual lesson in every class she taught, which has inspired many of her own students, now teachers, to craft their lessons similarly. One student, who is now a faculty member here at USC credits Dr. McGarrell with launching her teaching career and also distinctly remembers Dr. McGarrell asking her to share with her the one wedding present she, the student, really wanted, but did not receive. Of course, Dr. McGarrell bought that wedding gift for her then appreciative student.
Some students, now faculty members here at USC recall she always used green ink to mark their papers, for reasons which they can still only speculate. One of her students tells of a time when, during a lengthy three hour Humanities exam, she stopped the students, sent them to the cafeteria to have dinner, and then allowed them to return to complete their examination. Many of those students were struggling financially and have never forgotten that random act of kindness.
One evening, years ago, the lights went out on campus, just as class was about to start. Students were naturally eager for class to be dismissed. In those days, there was no back-up generator. Dr. Mac, as she was fondly called, told her students to hold on. She went to her office, retrieved a candle, brought it back to class, lit it and taught her class, much to her students’ surprise and amusement.
At other times Dr. Mac would take small groups of students to her home, to have class. Her infectious laughter sometimes surprised her students. And, students recount that she would always pray with them, whenever they visited her office. It was also the stubborn habit of Dr. Mac to end meetings of faculty and staff with everyone holding hands and singing “Bind Us Together” before the closing prayer. For colleagues and students, she modeled Christianity, with finesse, sprinkled with grace and humour. Her academic and administrative prowess, years of committed service, fidelity to duty and exemplary service will never be forgotten.
The USC board of trustees, administrators, faculty members, staff, students and alumni of the join in the celebration of the life and work of the late Dr. Shirley Ann McGarrell.
We express our heartfelt condolences to her husband Dr. Roy Israel McGarrell; their children, Fern Hudson and Faith Ann McGarrell; their son-in-law, Carl Hudson; their daughter-in-law, Grace McGarrell; grandchildren, Safiya Hudson, Stephen Hudson, Marcello McGarrell and Gabrielle McGarrell; her sister Mrs. Dolly Teixeira and brother-in-law Mr. Clement Teixeira, her sister-in-law Mrs. Waveney Martinborough and a host of cousins, nephews and nieces, personal and family friends.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed arethe dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:13.
Dr. Kern Tobias returns as CARU President and Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees for a third term￼
At around 8:00pm on Thursday 21st July 2022), the nominating committee at the Seventeenth Quinquennial Session of the Caribbean Union Conference, returned to the USC Auditorium with its first partial report of the session. A President of the CARU was nominated. It was the incumbent, Dr. Kern Tobias. The secretary of the nominating committee, Chaplain Rachel Sealy, under the watchful eyes of Inter-American Division President Dr. Elie Henry, read the recommendation of the committee for the approval of the plenary meeting of delegates. The recommendation was voted and Dr. Tobias and his wife Mrs. Linda Tobias were invited to the podium for presentation and acceptance.
In his brief and sober response, Dr. Tobias shared that he and his wife were both born in the little village of Mason Hall Tobago and were prepared for service by Christian education because their parents believed in it. He further shared that between his wife and himself, are eighty-eight years of denominational service in the teaching and pastoral ministries respectively. He said that his passion is to serve God and His people.
Counter-balancing his elation at the privilege of another opportunity to serve, Dr. Tobias candidly exposed his future plans for valediction by serving notice that if he is called upon to serve another term beyond this new quinquennium, his answer would be no, “I know when I should say goodbye” he said.
Hailing the workers of the CARU as “exceptional, talented, professional and proficient”, Dr. Tobias accepts this new call to lead the union with excitement. He promises to give his best, his all to the Master.
In a second partial report later in the evening, the nominating committee recommended incumbents Pastors Johnson Frederick and Bertie Henry to again serve in the positions of Executive Secretary and Treasurer of the CARU respectively. These recommendations were also voted by the plenary meeting of delegates.
You can follow the public activities of the Seventeenth Quinquennial Session of the Caribbean Union Conference on the CARU YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=caribbean+union+conference+live+stream
On the afternoon into the evening of Wednesday 20th July, 2022, the constituency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Caribbean commenced the Seventeenth Quinquennial Session of the Caribbean Union Conference (CARU). The session – delayed for one year by the most trenchant phases of the pandemic – was convened as an in-person gathering of denominational leaders, delegates, members, specially invited guests and friends of the church. It returned to a familiar place, the main campus of the University of the Southern Caribbean. This time however, the new, fully completed University Auditorium is the well-appointed epicenter of the important business meetings and worship experiences of the session.
The President of the University of the Southern Caribbean Dr. Colwick Wilson was at hand to welcome all attendees to the campus. The attendees represent a significant cross-section of the leaders and influentials of the church in the meso-hemispheric field. The President of the Inter-American Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists (IAD), Dr. Elie Henry and other members of the IAD leadership team, that would supervise the session; leaders of other union fields of the IAD as observers, leaders and workers of all of the conferences and missions of the CARU and its institutions – many of them as delegates – are the key participants of the three days of business meetings that will end on Friday.
The opening ceremony which began at 3:30 in the afternoon, secured as its feature speaker, the first citizen of the host country, Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes ORTT, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In her address Her Excellency commended the work of the church, particularly noting the ways in which it has made progress in re-orienting its approaches to serving humanity in the face of the pandemic with the attendant disruptions and miseries it has visited upon us. She observed that the church, like many other organizations had to quickly find “new ways of doing old business.” Her Excellency advanced the view that, “in the midst of disaster, people tend to look to the church for guidance reassurance and support” and “for some, the church was the sole source of comfort and direction when all seemed lost.” She further described the church as a “pillar of strength in society” that shapes and transforms lives through its outreach and fellowship and as “a touchstone for social and moral values” that is “called to lead by example.” “The church (Her Excellency said), must stand ready, willing and able to serve tirelessly, diligently and sincerely no matter the circumstances.” She concluded by wishing the Caribbean Union constituency a “fruitful, powerful and transformative meeting”.
Her Excellency’s address perfectly anticipated the sermon that IAD President Dr. Elie Henry presented when his turn at the podium came. Basing his sermon on Psalm 100, the power idea of his appeal was for the church, its institutions and its members to serve the Lord with gladness. He warned against the hubris of truth-possession and enjoined that “we have to open ourselves to others in humility and love. Quoting from the pen of inspiration, Dr. Henry encouraged his congregation that we should let our daily prayer be: “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” (Ellen G White Steps to Christ p.70).
Dr. Henry shared, and briefly but helpfully explained the three pillars of the IAD’s current strategic plan as evangelism, education and service to community and made the case that passionately and lovingly seeking the interests of others, and sharing truth with love is what serving the Lord with gladness should looks like. Describing service as a synonym of life, Dr Henry layered-on that the way we praise God must be manifest in the how we serve Him and the “least of these” that our God so readily identifies himself with.
Harvard University professor, Dr. David Williams, an illustrious alumnus in whom USC is well pleased, will be the main devotional speaker at this union session. The public activities of the Seventeenth Quinquennial Session of the Caribbean Union Conference can be followed on the Caribbean Union Conference’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=caribbean+union+conference
When you think about the sport of cycling, Tour de France is usually less than one mental pedal stroke away. That it is an annual men’s multiple stage event, perhaps confirms that there is still a lot of difficult terrain to cover before consumer preferences for marquee sports achieve gender equity. But that is a complicated conversation for another day.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago, on May 29th 2022, the day before the Indian Arrival Day public holiday, 121 cyclists of both genders, varying ages, skill and fitness levels; saddled on varying types of road-worthy bicycles, participated in the first annual Tour de Toco cycling event. This leisure event was organized by Peddlers Cycling Club. The route of this epic endurance ride was from the carpark of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope to the lighthouse at Galera Point, Toco.
The University of the Southern Caribbean was happy to join the list of corporate sponsors for Tour de Toco 2022. Our university found common ground with the core values and raison d’être of the Peddlers Cycling Club which according to its president, USC alumnus Mr. Brian Scotland, centres around the pursuit of wellness trough the enjoyment of the outdoors and the benefits of non-competitive exercise.
Formed in April of 2020 early in the throes of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Trinidad and Tobago, the club that was some time in planning had to abandon great plans for an official launch in Tobago opting instead – without fanfare to begin a weekly schedule of Sunday morning rides. With most other cycling clubs on the country favouring Saturday morning rides, Scotland, a Seventh-day Adventist, found it difficult to pursue his hobby with existing clubs. He and a few other like-minded cyclists – many of whom had some connection to the University of the Southern Caribbean as alumni, current and former faculty or staff – founded Peddlers Cycling Club.
As a leisure and fitness oriented organization, the club continues to attract a diverse membership, committed to non-competitive self-improvement and achieving health and fitness goals in a morally uplifting environment. The growth of in the influence of the club in the local cycling fraternity is evidenced by the growth in subscription to its events. The first major tour event of the club, a Mount Hope to Mayaro Ride was held in November of 2021. It attracted 53 participants. Tour de Toco, held just over a week ago attracted 121 participants – a growth of almost 130 percent. The club is now a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation and the President of the federation, Ms. Rowena Williams, was on hand on May 29th to bring greetings and declare the start of the first annual Tour de Toco.
In its short life to date, the club has also impacted the national and regional community through it charity work which has included offering material relief to victims of natural disasters including floods in Trinidad and Tobago and catastrophic volcanic ash falls in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are future plans for more and greater proactive community involvement.
Cyclists can look forward to the 2022 edition of the Mount Hope to Mayaro Ride later this year and a ‘Ridecation’ in Dominica in 2023. The itinerary of the latter will include two rides around the nature island of the Caribbean and targeted community activities aimed at improving the quality of life of disadvantaged children and the elderly.
Peddlers Cycling Club can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.