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Aug 23, 2011

Restoring 199 year old St. John’s Cathedral

The St John’s Cathedral is the oldest Anglican cathedral in Central America. It is where Moskito Indians were crowned and forms an intrinsic part of the history of the former capital. While the historic building has withstood the tests of time, restoration has been going on for more than a decade to retain its originality. This weekend, a fundraiser is taking place. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez Reporting

The music that flows over the balcony inside the St. John’s Cathedralis only one of many wonders that have graced this sanctuary for about two centuries.  The first cornerstone of the church was laid by Lieutenant Colonel John Nugent Smith on July 20, 1812.

Dane Ramclam, P.R., St. John’s Retoration Committee

Dane Ramclam

“The building itself was built in 1810, 1812 is the official opening two years afterwards. The All Saint’s chapel is the little chapel inside the cathedral itself and that is where we keep the Tuesday morning service. We decided to renovate the carpet—it was not like before like the outer part of the cathedral. There is a lot of history, we can give you about the cathedral.”

This pipe organ dates back to 1826. And its other chronicles include an account of the indigenous people along Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast who kept their alliance with the British in crowning ceremonies at St. John’s Cathedral in the early 1800’s.

Dane Ramclam

“Next year we’ll celebrate 200 years of a church being proclaiming god’s gospel to a nation and it’s going to be a wonderful time for us not only as Anglicans but as Belizeans. And we have to stress that across to the nation: this cathedral represents every part of us and it is so clear as our homeland Belize.”

The walls on one part of the chapel are adorned with all the former pastors whose sermons have blessed the community. But on those same walls are the visible signs, the wear and tear that has encouraged a restoration effort.

Dane Ramclam

“Well we started fifteen years ago when we originally started on the historian cathedral  ground—that’s where the first food fiesta took place. The fifteenth one which will take place on this Saturday at the ACC campus across from where we are today and we have used this money for the continued renovation of this cathedral. You can see the first fourteen eyras, we have completed the roof, we have completed the carpeting in the chapel here and we have completed the benches. We hope to raise as much as we can this year to finish the painting of the cathedral; as you can see the walls are damaged from past storms and the recent earthquakes. We usually have the international food fiesta and it’s a wide variety of different foods from all ethnic background from people of this country—we will have the Chinese, Creole, Mestizo, East Indians and our own native rice and beans chicken and salad. It will be held on Saturday the twenty-seventh at the ACC grounds starting at ten in the morning until four. There will be a food court, so we are inviting the whole community to come out.”

The chapel’s mahogany beams, pillars and brick wall solidify its landmark status and all fundraising activities should be patronized. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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