Rupert Anthony Gallimore,
first visited Bethel Baptist Church in 1958 when he came to Kingston, from his native St Ann. In this regard, he was following in the footsteps of his older brother Gerry and their cousin Miss Olga Coke. Upon confession of faith in our Lord Jesus, he was baptized and became a member of Bethel in 1959. At that time Bethel was a small fledgling church of just five years. Further, before Rupert’s arrival, the small pastor-less church became even smaller when it took the decision to join the Jamaica Baptist Union. Some of the more experienced members left because the JBU was a member of the Baptist World Alliance that was affiliated with World Council of Churches which had connections that they did not approve of.
The pastor of the East Queen Street Baptist Church, Rev Leslie Larwood was appointed Moderator. Mr. William Edwards was ordained a deacon. Gerry Gallimore, aged 19 was appointed Church Secretary; Ken Christian aged 20 was appointed Sunday School Superintendent; Errol Miller age 18 was appointed Director of the Training Union and Oscar Barrett, a student of Calabar Theological College assisted with preaching. It is fair to say that most onlookers would sympathize with Rev Larwood and Mr. Edwards for what they had taken on.
The Church was housed in an old wooden building for which a tidy monthly rent had to be paid. How, the Church met its obligations often bordered on the miraculous and was a matter of monthly praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty. Most of the members were young people at high school, or college, or university. Rupert joined the ranks of those members like Deacon Edwards, Mrs. Mavis Edwards, Sister Olga Coke, Karl James, Victor Stewart and Gerry who had jobs. In time, Rupert was ordained a deacon. When Rupert became a member of Bethel in 1959 only the Lord knew of Bethel of 2014, and he did not tell any of us at that time. And all who was present then have to say to God be the Glory, Great Things He has done.
Today Bethel Baptist Church, celebrating its 60th Anniversary, thank God and pay tribute to the life and service of Deacon Rupert Gallimore over the last 55 years as one of the members who grew in grace with the Church and was faithful as he finished his course. Of the many features of Rupert’s life and character, the Bethel Men’s Fellowship/Brotherhood gives God thanks for his persistent presence is so many areas of the life of the church; for the energy and leadership that marked his engagements and for the gifts he so generously shared.
Rupert was persistently present
- At Sunday School first as a member and shortly thereafter as a Teacher at different age levels. He was invariably present at Sunday School Teachers Meetings. In the latter years he as one of the co-teachers of a Young Adult Class
- At the Men’s Fellowship of which he as the founding president in the early 1970s. As the Men’s Fellowship morphed into the Brotherhood, he served as chairman of the Brotherhood as after demitting office he continued on the Executive of the Brotherhood until his passing.
- At Quarterly devotions of the Horizon Home
- In the Prison Ministry as the church ministered to those who are incarcerated.
- In the September Birth Month activities including the occasions when it led Wednesday Prayers and Praise, as Chairman of its Socials and as presiding officer at the elections of the Officers of the Group.
- In Grief Counselling as members and other suffered the loss of loved ones or encountered personal disasters.
- As a deacon with all of the attendant duties and responsibilities
- At Members Meetings, Church Council Meetings, Deacons meetings, and ad hoc meetings called for numerous and varied reasons.
Rupert was always present at Bethel. He exercised the Ministry of Presence and by his persistent presence impacted the lives of all of us.
Brought Energy and Leadership
Let me give a few examples:
Crusade of the Americas in Ellen Street Manchester, in the 1960s. We were on a Team together. Rupert drove each evening, Sunday to Friday and again on Sunday, from Kingston to Ellen Street and back. He also conducted the service. Karl McGrath was the soloist and I preached. One night Rupert was driving coming down from Mandeville to Williamsfield. Coming up the road was one truck overtaking another with absolutely no space on either side. In a split second, Rupert found a gate to a cow pasture on the left. That explains one of the reasons I am around this evening. We were all in shock after the trucks passed. Rupert found the nerve to drive into town and back again the next evening.
Citizens Associations of the communities in which he lived. How can anyone of us forget when Rupert, Eva, and your family made the down payment and moved into a new housing development here in Kingston? The Sewerage plant just did not work properly. It gave off a pungent smell which was hard to bear. Numerous letters were sent to the developer’s company with no effective response. Rupert was not the president of the Citizens association that was formed, I think that he was on the Executive. When frustration reached a height Rupert convince a few members of the Executive to accompany him to the impressive office of the well-known developer. I will not name him for this would result in instant recognition. Rupert convinced a few of the residents to go with him to visit the developer himself. When they walked into the office, Rupert announced that they had come to speak with Mr. So and So. The next question was do you have an appointment to which Rupert answered, without missing a beat, the Sewerage Plant made no appointment with them to smell. He pushed the door when into the developer. The result that the problem was fixed within days.
- Three-time President of the JBU Brotherhood illustrates willingness and effectiveness.
- Organizing get together, especially when Gerry visited Jamaica
Generous Sharing of his Gifts
Rupert read constantly. He was also sharing books he read. I was one of the beneficiaries of this habit of his. He did not only share books but mangoes and pear. Rupert would always pop up with some gift to give. He asked for nothing in return.
Creator and Provider of Jokes
Rupert was my consultant and provider of jokes. Some he created others he found and shared. His quick wit cut to the bone on any topic and on all occasions. He prepared for all occasions and was the Master of Ceremonies at events too numerous to recall. This one I read in the Sunday Gleaner and laughed for days: saying this is Rupert.
On April 28, 2012 Andre Earle and Karen Wilson launched their law firm Earle and Wilson at offices on Ardene Road. The Sunday Gleaner of May 13th 2012 carried a story of the launch. It highlighted the number of legal luminaries who were present which could well have been taken from who is who of the learned profession in Jamaica. Here I quote from that Sunday Gleaner.
“Not Short on Legal Lingo, Master of Ceremonies of the evening’s proceedings Rupert Gallimore kept the air light and jovial as he poked fun at the noble profession, he is a member of.” Rupert’s conduct of the event convinced, and his masterful use of legal language in a humorous manner, the Journalist that he was a lawyer. I am by no means claiming that Rupert could not have been an eminent lawyer. I am simple stating the fact that he was not. But he was so good in his preparation and convincing in performance at the event that one could only conclude that he must be a lawyer, a claim that he did not make and would have instantly denied with a subdued chuckle, eyes looking down.
There is a joke that Rupert gave me, which I have used on some many occasions with acknowledgement, that I cannot restrain myself from repeating now in paying tribute to him.
It is about the seven stages of human life.
First there are spills
Then there are drills
Then there are thrills
Then there are bills
Then there are ills
Then there are pills
Then there are wills
Today as I see him lying there in the coffin let me add the eight and final stage
Then we are still
Eva and family thank you for sharing Rupert with us here at Bethel Baptist Church and elsewhere. He enriched our lives.
Thanks be to God.