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Archbishop: ‘Nobody beating us, nobody locking us up’

Archbishop: ‘Nobody beating us, nobody locking us up’

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Spiritual Baptists across St.Vincent and the Grenadines have been challenged to keep their religion alive.

This timely reminder came from Archbishop Johnny Jones of the Mt. Carmel Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese Inc. of Chester Cottage at last Sunday’s celebration of the eight anniversary of Spiritual Baptists’ recognition by the state.{{more}}

The event also marked the 59th anniversary since Spiritual Baptists were allowed to worship freely in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

Jones, who never allows May 21 to go by without celebrating Recognition Day, challenged his fellow members also known as ‘Shakers’, to be proud of their religious belief.

“Everybody want to be like us, yet there are Baptists who are ashamed to say that ‘I am a Shouter Man or a Shouter Woman’,” said Jones.

“Today, police are in the faith, lawyers are in the faith, members of Government are in the faith,” said Jones, as he encouraged the packed audience to proclaim the name of God wherever they go.

Jones’ sermon was entitled: ‘I will bless the Lord at all times.’ He told the congregation they can do that by praising and worshipping God.

The struggles of Spiritual Baptists in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and their quest to worship freely were highlighted during the sermon.

Jones, who is recovering from a spate of ill health, told the congregation some Spiritual Baptists are in their full strength, yet they waste their time.

“Praise God now! Now is the acceptable time,” encouraged Jones.

“When we think of the struggles of this faith, let us think about praising God better and stronger. Nobody beating us, nobody locking us up. We are free indeed to worship and to shout to express God in our own way,” he remarked.

Jones used the occasion to recount the days when Spiritual Baptists in St.Vincent and the Grenadines were jailed and beaten.

The Baptist members were also encouraged to cherish their religion.

“History taught me in a town called Barrouallie our spiritual people were put to clean dog filth. We must not allow our faith to go down but keep it up,” stated Jones.

On March 28, 2002, the same day the Unity Labour Party celebrated its first anniversary of victory against the New Democratic Party, the Government passed a bill piloted by Girlyn Miguel designating May 21 Spiritual Baptist Day.

At a Press Conference held on Wednesday, May 15, 2002, Senator Edwin Snagg, also a Spiritual Baptist, said Government had moved to recognize the day when freedom was given to the Spiritual Baptist movement to worship freely in this country.

Snagg added that since May 21, 1951, when the movement was given freedom to worship here, members of the faith have faced many struggles and Government in recognition of religious freedom, beliefs and practices, is supportive of the Spiritual Baptist faith.

Despised for their form of worship, outlawed by the colonial British authority who were fearful of the emergence of genuine African traditions, the Shakers were outlawed in 1912 for the way in which they praised God.

Following the granting of Adult Suffrage in 1951, the ban on Spiritual Baptists was lifted on May 21, 1951.

On March 22, 1965, Chief Minister Ebenezer Joshua, supported by Opposition Leader Milton Cato, repealed the Shaker Ordinance giving the Spiritual Baptists further freedom to worship. (HN)

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