Twelve Episcopal men in the British Virgin Islands inducted into the Brotherhood of St. Andrew

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted Aug 21, 2023

A worship service at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Photo: Ellis Clifton

[Episcopal News Service] Twelve lay men were inducted into the Brotherhood of St. Andrew Aug. 20 at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Virgin Gorda, in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands.

Trevor Bridgewater, senior warden of St. Mary the Virgin, one of the 12 men who were inducted into the brotherhood, told Episcopal News Service he’s looking forward to seeing how he and his fellow inductees together can positively impact the wider Virgin Gorda community. He said he felt inspired to join after watching his parish’s priest, the Rev. Ellis Clifton, present information about the Brotherhood of St. Andrew at the “It’s All About Love” festival held in July in Baltimore, Maryland.

“At first I thought it was just a men’s fellowship group, but after listening and learning how it’s not just about service to the church or organization and in the community, but also has a tenant of Bible study, that’s something for me,” Bridgewater said. “I think this is something that can help me spiritually.”

The brotherhood, founded in 1883 at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois, is an international Anglican-Episcopal men’s organization that focuses on Bible study, prayer and community service. Today, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew consists of more than 4,000 members in chapters throughout the Anglican Communion.

Clifton, who’s been a brother for more than 30 years, became St. Mary the Virgin’s priest in 2021 after the church went 13-and-a-half years without a resident priest.

“When I first got [to St. Mary the Virgin], I was very much interested in the vision of this congregation. What is God calling us to do and be as a community of faith for our church and for this island?” Clifton told ENS. “One of the things was that we wanted to establish a Brotherhood of St. Andrew chapter and a Daughters of the King chapter. It was easier for us to start working on the Brotherhood of St. Andrew chapter since I’ve been a brother for so long.”

With the men’s induction, the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands became the first international chapter of the brotherhood established since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Clifton. Additionally, Clifton said St. Mary the Virgin’s class of brothers will be significant for both the brotherhood and for congregants because of recent efforts made by the diocese and The Episcopal Church Office of African Descent Ministries to offer clergy support to the 14 parishes located on three islands in the American and the British Virgin Islands. The Diocese of the Virgin Islands is one of two predominantly Black Episcopal dioceses in the Caribbean, the other being the Diocese of Haiti.

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has also increased its ministry work on racial reconciliation in recent years.

“What the brotherhood is doing is that they’re establishing a chapter in a Black, British territory, and at a Black congregation,” said Clifton, former Midwest regional director of the Union of Black Episcopalians. “We are in the process of making a lot of changes in the Virgin Islands.”

The induction took place during a morning worship service at St. Mary the Virgin, which also that day celebrated its 149th anniversary. Brother Tom Welch, international executive director of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, preached the sermon, commissioned the new chapter and inducted the 12 men. The church held a reception and concert by the Virgin Gorda Community Chorale after the worship service.

Celebrations will continue throughout the week until Aug. 27, when the Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care for The Episcopal Church, will preach the sermon during Sunday’s worship service.

Bridgewater said he believes he and his fellow brotherhood inductees are in a “positive direction” to developing themselves spiritually.

“We continue to God’s grace; we continue to show up for God — continue to grow in strength,” Bridgewater said. “We are continuing to move from whence we came, and I’m just excited to see how we as brothers are going to move forward in the coming months.”

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at