By RON FANFAIR
To say that 73-year-old Bishop Dr. Audley James is a busy man is an understatement.
Two Saturdays ago, he presided over five weddings, delivered the keynote speech at the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario’s (SCAGO) annual gala then hopped on a red eye flight to Trinidad & Tobago to attend a four-day conference.
On his return, he headed straight to the headquarters of Revivaltime Tabernacle Ministries Inc. which he established 30 years ago to attend rehearsals for celebrations marking the church’s anniversary, which were held last weekend.
A rally on Friday evening was followed by a Caribbean night celebration and a wedding on Saturday, Sunday’s morning worship service, another wedding and an anniversary gala at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel later that afternoon.
“That is what church life is like,” says James, the head of one of Canada’s largest Pentecostal churches. “There is never a dull moment.”
Born in Trelawney, Jamaica, James was a police officer and health inspector before coming to Canada in 1969 to wed his sweetheart Rosenda and start a new chapter in his life.
He joined West End Revival temple where he was soon elevated to the Board of Deacons, the first Black to be elected to such an esteemed position in that church’s history. His desire to lead while at the same time justifying his belief in economic empowerment led to the establishment of Revivaltime Tabernacle in 1980 with a small congregation of 36, including 13 children. Three of the children belonged to him and his wife and they are all now fully involved in ministry.
His son Andrew will be ordained an assistant pastor on Sunday while daughter Judith is married to Orim Meikle, the founder of Rhema Christian Ministries of Canada. His third child, Janna-Lyn, is married to the son of Faith Miracle Temple founder Bishop Dr. Al Baxter.
James, who was ordained a Bishop by Canada Christian College four years ago, spearheaded the drive to purchase 3.5 acres of land in Downsview to set up the church’s headquarters which now includes a mortgage-free sanctuary, gymnasium and school. He presides over three churches in Canada with a congregation of some 3,200, two satellites in Jamaica and one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1993, with the assistance of Ontario’s Ministry of Housing, James spearheaded the development of a building in Mississauga which houses 45 three-bedroom units of affordable housing.
He showed leadership beyond his church’s boundary by starting the successful “Put the Guns Away” campaign several years ago.
“We wanted to put banners all across the city with that message, but we were not allowed to by then Mayor Mel Lastman,” recalled James. “The campaign was, however, a success, but it’s still my belief that a combined effort of churches across denominational lines is needed to put pressure on city hall and our governments in an effort to get the guns out of the hands of those not legally entitled to carry them.
“A combined religious assault on gun violence and drugs is needed and the church should be leading the way.”