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Spiritual Baptist Assemblies celebrate Freedom to Worship this Sunday

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Members of the Spiritual Baptist Faith will celebrate another anniversary of their Freedom to Worship this Sunday, May 24, with a Procession of Witness from the Memorial Hall in Kingstown to the Victoria Park, beginning at 1 p.m.

The procession will be led by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Band.{{more}}

A Worship Service will then be held at Victoria Park, commencing from 2 p.m. The service will be broadcast live on SVG Television Channel 9.

The Spiritual Baptist religion, then known as “Shakerism”, had been declared illegal by a colonial ordinance in 1912, which prescribed fines and imprisonment for those found guilty of practising “Shakerism.”

Social and political activist George McIntosh had championed the cause of the Shakers. In 1951, a trial in a Magistrate’s Court ended with the acquittal of those who had been charged for offences under the Shakerism Prohibition Ordinance of 1912.

That acquittal virtually put an end to prosecutions under the ordinance. After that, Spiritual Baptists worshipped openly. The Prohibition Ordinance was formally repealed in 1965, under the influence of Ebenezer Theodore Joshua.

In 2002, the House of Assembly unanimously passed an Act declaring May 21 as the Spiritual Baptist Freedom to Worship Day.

Since then, Spiritual Baptists have been celebrating their anniversary of freedom on the Sunday nearest 21st May.

This Sunday’s observances will be the first jointly organized anniversary celebrations for some time. In recent years, each Spiritual Baptist Assembly has been celebrating National Spiritual Baptist Day individually.

This year there has been a getting together of several assemblies to organize a national event, as had been done in the past.

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