• Jill O. Patrick

A Man of Distinction

Since 2014, its centennial year (100th anniversary), the members, families and friends of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Hallandale Beach, Florida, have paid homage each July to their beloved church and its Founding Fathers (from left to right, Mr. Melbourne Knowles, Mr. Ansel Daniel Saunders, Sr., and Mr. Alexander Louis (A.L.) Wilkins, Sr.).

According to historical accounts: "The Episcopal Church of Hallandale Beach, designated as St. Anne's Church, was organized in 1914 by a group of Bahamians who had come to this part of Florida bringing with them their right traditions of the Anglican Church in the Bahamas. First services were held in a wooden building at the corner of what is now Dixie Highway and Foster Road which was owned by Mr. A.L. Wilkins, one of the founders of the new congregation."

Mr. A.L. Wilkins, Sr. (1883-1960) was my Grandmother, Eseline Wilkins Morgan's Father, and my Mother, Juanita Morgan Osborne's maternal Grandfather.

I love this photo of my Grandmother whom we still lovingly refer to as "Mother."

In my Mother's 2009 memoir titled Selected Works, she writes with the fondest of memories of time spent with her Grandaddy. Their lifestyles consisting of picking and eating fruits and vegetables from his backyard, sugar cane, chickens, roosters, eggs, religion, her grandfather's dog, Jack, and other elements that cemented the bond they shared.

Reading excerpts of the section titled Grandaddy from Selected Works makes me feel honored for the commitment my Great-Grandfather made to his community, church and family. A legacy that would be celebrated and recorded in history for decades and possibly centuries to come. I feel a sense of pride knowing that we (descendants) had the privilege of taking part in various events, celebrations and services in 2014 to commemorate 1914-2014 A Century of Faith and Service on behalf of the contributions of my Great-Grandfather to St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.

On Sunday, July 27, 2014, I stood alongside my Mother and Uncle Colton Morgan as we and others pulled on the red ribbon and stood in awe at the unveiling of the historical marker to publicly tell the history of this church.

Whenever possible, I enjoy fellowshipping with members of St. Anne's, occasionally listening to stories being shared as I still feel for traces of my Great-Grandfather, knowing that he too walked on these holy grounds. Each time sitting for a moment to reflect and think of my ancestors who came here before me and with me.

I hope to be in attendance in the year 2039, one hundred and twenty five years from the founding of this church, when the time capsule is unearthed, revealing present day artifacts.

After reading the chapter in my Mother's autobiography about her grandfather, I can't help but wonder what Mr. Wilkins, Sr., would say or think about the legacy he left behind. According to my Mother, "My grandaddy was a soft spoken man of few words. He was a man of prominence in founding and establishment of Saint Anne's Episcopal Church, in the Masons, and in his community. He was a man of distinction."

Take good care of yourself,