History

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History

 

 

 

          Bishop Peter Daniel of Tobago

 

The name “Baptist” is a nickname given to the believers and practitioners of adult baptism by their enemies in the 17th century. Baptists form one of the largest protestant communions in the world.

 

Historically there have been:

1. Calvinistic/Particular Baptist, ascribing, that the atonement is limited to those predestined to be saved.

2. Freewill/General Baptist; tending towards  Arminianism in theology and declaring that the atonement of Christ  is for all men and rejecting the idea of baptismal regeneration.

3. Spiritual Baptist; [though not recorded] advocating free movement of the Spirit and Spirit possession.

 

All Baptists believe that their Church’s origin is in the New Testament. Some take it at the encounter between Zacharias and the Arch-angel Gabriel and the birth of John the Baptist[ Luke1:5-25.&1:57-80]which was foretold [Mal.3:1]. Some take it at the baptism of Jesus  Christ.  Some take it from the choosing of the apostles. One way or the other Christ  is the Head of the Baptist Church.

 

The modern Baptist Church arose out of the  Reformation of the sixteenth [16] century and the Anabaptist movement, and the effort to re-establish the free Church- the Church based upon New Testament witness. The first modern Baptist Church being established in Amsterdam in 1609.

 

The Baptist Faith has been practiced in Trinidad and Tobago for the last 190 years. It was brought here between 1815-1816 by African-American refugees of the  American war of independence  who were themselves  members of the earliest Black Baptist Congregation in the Southern United States of America. They were ex-soldiers of the "CORPS OF COLONIAL MARINES" who had fought on the side of the British during the conflict.

 

The spread of “Baptist Witness” has been phenomenal.  From the original seventy, [70] to an estimated one hundred thousand, (100,000) today. In fact by the end of the 19th century , three[3] variations of the Faith existed:

1. The ‘Orthodox’ London Baptist.

2. The  Independent  Baptist.

3.  The Spiritual Baptist.

 

Today there are at least six [6] variations

1.  The Baptist Union of Trinidad and Tobago. [The London  Baptist].

2.  The Independent  Baptist.

3.  The Spiritual Baptist.

4.  The Sovereign  Grace Mission Baptist.

5.  The Fundamental Baptist.

6.  The Trinidad and Tobago  Baptist  Association.

 

 

The Spiritual Baptist Faith

 

THE SPIRITUAL BAPTIST FAITH is the only indigenous religious tradition of Trinidad and Tobago.  It was born out of  the 19th century struggle  of the  Afro-American adherents of the  Baptist Faith  for freedom of worship, to practice   their  Christianity  with a blend of Africanism.  A brand of African survival, reflecting the joys, trials, tribulations and frustrations of a people whose ancestors were uprooted from their Motherland and its rich traditions, and dehumanized, seeking to spiritually go back home. Hence in their worship emphasis is placed to a greater extent on handclapping, singing, shouting, and rejoicing more than formal worship.

 

In the past, Spiritual Baptists were called:

Wayside/wayward   Baptist  - Because they held religious meetings at the side of the road.

Candle Baptist  - Because  they  preached the ‘”gospel’ by the wayside , in tents  by candle light  with the ringing of bell and blowing of horns.

*Shouters  - Because  of the practice of shouting  during worship.

 

It should be noted here  that  Asram L. Stapleton in his book “Birth  and growth of the Baptist  Church in  Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean” page 31, states that  “This definition can no longer apply to a Christian Church in the 20th century , due to the grammatical analysis of the word “shout’ or “shouter”. He further stated that in his opinion “whenever the word is used in the context of the Spiritual Baptist it must be treated as a gross misinterpretation”.

 

Stapleton also went on to give a definition of the term “Spiritual Baptist.”

[1] The word “Baptist” has dual meaning.

a. It depicts members of a Christian Denomination who maintain that Baptism, usually applied by immersion, can be administered only upon a personal confession of the Christian faith.

b. It is a title given to some one whose duty it is to perform the act of Baptism.

[2] Whereas the word “Spiritual” means motivation by incorporeal or disembodied spirits pertaining to the Church or Divine  things, in this document [i.e. his book] the word “Spiritual’’ is here used as a qualifying adjective to the word Baptist as the noun, thus arriving at the name “Spiritual Baptist”.

 

The Doctrine of the Spiritual Baptist is based on the Holy Trinity-Father , Son and  Holy Spirit and their conservative  super naturalism includes six [6] points.

1.The inerrancy of the Bible.

2.The virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

3.The Supernatural Atonement.

4 The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

5.The Authenticity of the Gospel miracles.

6.The Second coming of Christ.

 

“Therefore with anthropology and history colliding at a certain point , the Spiritual Baptist Church or Faith can be defined as Christianity tempered with Africianism, and as such it must be recognized as a Christian Church and not a cult” A.L.Stapleton.

 

The West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order Inc. was born out of the struggle of the Elders of the Faith at that time to be identified as Christians  and part of the world wide Baptist Community because of their beliefs and  thus not be debarred from practicing their Religion by the  Shouters Prohibition Ordinance of 1917.

 

The passing of the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance in 1917 is one of the darkest nights in the history of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. It seemed to be an attempt by the Colonial Government at the time to appease the powers that be [the police, the landed gentry, and the established Church, ] in suppressing the growth and development of a local religious movement, THE SHOUTER BAPTIST. However, this did not happen., for by 1946 the movement was approx.30,000 strong  and also a political might by virtue of Universal Suffrage giving each Shouter Baptist over 21 years a say.

 

There were two [2] umbrella Organizations representing  them at the time. The West  Indian United Baptist Sacred Order [claiming to represent the Spiritual Baptists] established in 1942 and the West Indian Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith[ claiming to represent the Shouters] established in 1945. General agreement existed  on the articles of faith, but important differences were to be found  among the leaders, especially on the question of mode of worship.

 

Thus, because of this question, the Leaders of The West Indian United Baptist Sacred Order, at that time [Leo Sandiford, Clifford  Cato,  Harvey Glaud, Christopher Meyers, Phillip Alexis, Farrell Thomas and Roderick Nicholas] decided to make themselves into a corporate body, and to obtain legal incorporation status from the Colonial Government. The name of the Order was also changed to West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order. It should be noted here that as late as 1993, His Grace The Archbishop of The West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order Inc. The Rt. Rev. Ivan Lancaster, in his capacity as Head of the National Congress of Incorporated Baptist of Trinidad and Tobago, amid growing  controversy again on this question, in a letter to the Editor of the Trinidad Express  captioned ‘Baptist: We are not Shouters’ reinforced  this point to all Spiritual Baptists  and the world at large. The Trustees/Leaders of the West Indian United Baptist Sacred Order were bringing the Shouter Baptist Faith within the boundaries of the law as it stood in 1949. From their Constitution, their aims and objectives  implied that they were not Shouters.

 

After  accepting the Report of the  Select Committee  of  the Legislative Council on the private bill entitled “An Ordinance for the  incorporation of certain persons as trustees of the West Indian United Baptist Sacred Order”, which had  held two meetings  - on May 09 ,1949 & September 01, 1949 with the Trustees, The Ordinance to incorporate  The West Indian United Baptist Sacred Order  was passed in the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago on November 04, 1949.  The Organization was now known as West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order  Inc.  to look after the affairs of  Spiritual Baptists  as enshrined in their constitution.

 

Today 2007, nearly  sixty-five [65] years after its first establishment, with over  one hundred and twenty -five [125] active ordained ministers and with over  fifty-nine [59] member churches, The  Diocese still  forges on  stronger and better  than ever in the name of the LORD doing this.

 

 

N.B. Sources of information.

Constitution of W.I.U.S.B.S.O.Inc.1949.

The Express Newspaper.Saturday,23rd January 1993 Edition.

C.M.Jacobs.  1996 “Joy Cometh in the Morning”; 

A.L.Stapleton  “ The Birth and Growth of  the Baptist  Church  in  Trinidad and Tobago  and the Caribbean..” ;

 H.P.S.B. Southland School of Theology library.