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EXPLORING HISTORICAL RESOURCES ON TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: THE SPIRITUAL BAPTIST FAITH: AFRICAN NEW WORLD RELIGIOUS IDENTITY, HISTORY AND TESTIMONY BY REV. PATRICIA STEPHENS.

EXPLORING HISTORICAL RESOURCES ON TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: THE SPIRITUAL BAPTIST FAITH: AFRICAN NEW WORLD RELIGIOUS IDENTITY, HISTORY AND TESTIMONY BY REV. PATRICIA STEPHENS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title:            The Spiritual Baptist Faith: African New World Religious Identity, History and Testimony.   
Author:        Rev. Patricia Stephens. 
Summary:    

The author comes from a multi-religious background that includes the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Spiritual Baptist faiths. Raised primarily as a Roman Catholic she relates the path, which led to her baptism as a Spiritual Baptist, eventually, being ordained into the Priesthood. She subsequently began to research the historical development of the Spiritual Baptist Faith focusing on the theology and the sociological aspects.  

Despite the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance of 28th November 1917 which deemed them criminals and sought to suppress their observances, the Faith prevailed. It was a difficult time for them as the political views on the religion at the time was reflected in calypsos, and the treatment of those who adhered to their religious practices. The magazine, “The Beacon”, published from 1929 to 1931 by notable personalities such as C.L.R. James, Alfred Mendes and Albert Gomes, advocated for the religious rights of the Spiritual Baptists. Leaders and followers of the Faith such as Elton Griffith, Urias Philip Granger and Tubal Uriah Butler, staunchly defended their religion during this period. The Ordinance was repealed on 30th March 1951. 

After prohibition, the Faith continued to grow and develop with the author discussing what she found in the course of her research. She found that there are those whom she refers to as the Non-Orisha orientation of Spiritual Baptists. These follow Orthodox Christianity and not the African traditions. Those with Orisha orientation, i.e. Shouters, have rituals which are directly rooted with African religious beliefs and practices.  

To conclude her research, the author conducted many interviews with persons not just from Trinidad, but Grenada, St Vincent, Guyana and Barbados. These detail personal accounts and memories of their upbringing in the Faith, which contribute to the historical account. These are reported verbatim in Part Two of the work as “Testimonies.” The work also features a detailed glossary in Chapter Three (3) on primary symbols used such as the Shepherd’s Rod, flags, Bands and Seals and the Centre Pole.   

   

Contents: 

Part One: Identity and History 

Chapter One: Socio-Biography of the Author as Adherent of Faith and as Socio-analyst 

  • Pastor 

  • Mother 

  • Shepherd and Shepherdess 

  • Pointer 

  • Matron 

  • Baptiser 

  • Mother Diver 

  • Star Gazer 

  • Watchman 

  • Messenger 

  • Midwife 

  • Nurse 

  • Nation Dance: Combinations of African Beliefs 

  • Childhood Memories 

  • The Study 

  • Socio-Biography of the Spiritual Baptist Faith 

 

Chapter Two: An Overview of the History of Trinidad 1783 – 1908  

  • An Overview of the History of Trinidad 1783 – 1908  

  • 1797 – 1870  

 

Chapter Three: Belief and Practices of the Spiritual Baptist Faith 

  • Belief and Practices of the Spiritual Baptist Faith 

  • Glossary of Symbols Used 

  • Bell 

  • Flag 

  • Candles 

  • Sword 

  • Shepherd’s Rod 

  • Baptism 

  • Mourning 

  • Bands and Sealing 

  • Sinking Pilgrims 

  • Surveying 

  • The Centre Pole 

  • Mourner’s Room 

  • Mercy Seat 

  • Thanksgiving 

 

Chapter Four:  

  • Period of Proscription Trinidad: 1917 – 1951 

  • Urias Philip Granger 

  • Mother Clarissa Adams 

  • Albert Gomes 

  • Ashford & Mitra Sinanan 

  • C.B. Mathura 

  • Andrew J. Balfour 

  • Tubal Uriah Butler 

  • St Vincent 1912 – 1965  

 

Chapter Five: 

  • Liberation and Transformation 

  • Prayer Houses 

  • The Orientation of the Spiritual Baptist Faith 

 

Conclusion 

 

List of Testimonies in Part Two: 

  1. Socio-Biography of an Adherent, Lloyd Charles, Trinidad 

  1. Archbishop Monica Randoo, Trinidad 

  1. Archbishop Clarence Baisden, Trinidad 

  1. Archbishop Gertrude Mundy, Trinidad 

  1. Archbishop Cosmore Pompey, St Vincent 

  1. Bishop Magna Atherly, London/Grenada 

  1. Archbishop Philip Lewis, London 

  1. Ella Andall, Trinidad 

  1. Captain Millicent Griffith, London/Trinidad 

  1. Archbishop John Noel, Grenada 

  1. Mabel Salazaar, Mary Munroe, Majorie Craigman 

 

References 

Bibliography 

 

Publisher – Karnak House 1999 

 

Audience:    Intended for those interested in Religious Studies, the history and practices of the Spiritual Baptist Faith, History of Trinidad 1783-1908, African history in Trinidad, students preparing for CAPE and CSEC examinations, and those attending tertiary level institutions.    

 

Subject Term –  

Spiritual Baptists – West Indies – History 

Spiritual Baptists – Trinidad and Tobago – History 

Spiritual Baptists – West Indies – Interviews 

Spiritual Baptists – West Indies – Rituals 

Religions- Trinidad and Tobago 

 

 

Complied by: Michelle Garcia de Armesto, Librarian IV: Heritage Library Division 

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