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Sunday, January 29, 2023



Oct. 4, 2001 – At Emmaus and Bethany Moravian Churches, there's a female preacher in the pulpit now — the first in the congregations' two and a half centuries of existence.
The Rev. Lillette George, who grew up on St. Thomas, took over as the pastor of the two Moravian churches on Aug. 1. The job had been vacant for several years since the Rev. Ralph Prince transferred to St. Thomas. In the interim, lay pastor Bill Lomax, a St. John resident, conducted services.
As the first woman to serve the congregations as pastor, "I am breaking new ground," George, an Antigua native, said. Calling her job now a challenge, she allowed that not everyone was receptive to the idea. But there are other challenges, too, including working with the church youth in "getting them to understand the centrality of God in their lives."
A church member who asked not to be identified said that the Provincial Elders Conference of the Eastern West Indies Province of the Moravian Church picked George for the job because of her strength in working with youth. Over the years, membership among young people has declined, the church member said.
George came to the post from a teaching job at Agape Total Life Academy on Tortola. A graduate of the University of the Virgin Islands, she taught at Lockhart School on St. Thomas and later in Newport News, Va., before heading off to Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pa., to earn her a degree in pastoral counseling. She was ordained in 1993.
"I studied drug and alcohol counseling, family intervention and domestic violence," she said.
George said she is still getting her feet wet in her new job. Her flocks of about 140 members each are located at opposite ends of St. John, which means she spends a lot of time in her car traveling between the churches. Not one to waste time, she said she uses the trips for reflection.
She also travels frequently to St. Thomas to consult with Moravian Church officials. Her mother, Lillian George, and a niece, Lariesha George, live on St. Thomas. too.
While she has some plans to reach out to the broader community as well as to introduce some new programs in her churches, she's not ready to discuss them yet.
George said she enjoys "the natural environment" of living at the Moravian Church manse in Coral Bay. She doesn't have a lot of free time, but when she does, she likes to write short stories, poems and plays. "And I'm going to make going to the beach one of my priorities," she said.

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