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Honoring Granville

Fairchild Street Terminal renamed after Spiritual Baptist Archbishop

The renaming of the bus terminal at Fairchild Street in honour of the Late Patriarch Archbishop Granville Williams on the 65th anniversary of the founding of the “Jerusalem” temple at Ealing Grove is a fitting tribute to the memory of one who advocated for the acceptance and indigenization of the Spiritual Baptist faith within Barbadian consciousness and worldwide as a Black Divinity. It is a symbolic singular tribute to the Williams’s memory and legacy, the saving of souls.

In attendance at the ceremony at the Golden Square Freedom Park on Saturday October 2, 2022, were members of the Sons of God Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Church, other invited clergy, communions and dignitaries from Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, and the USA. There was creative and cultural support from Israel Lovell Dancers, senior officers of the Barbados Landship and Dancin’ Africa in the procession through town that preceded the event. Proceedings began at around 3:00pm when the Deputy Prime Minster, Honourable Santia Bradshaw and other government officials were seated. The Master of Ceremonies was Antoine Williams.

Mr. Corey Layne, MP for the City of Bridgetown delivered an introduction that gave the impression that Spiritual Baptism in Barbados began with the return of the then young, ordained minister from Trinidad in 1957, discounting the contributions of countless persons from around the Caribbean who migrated here and were germane to the upkeep and maintenance of this Caribbean indigenous spiritual practice before and during William’s commission.

Then, our well-known opening hymn, Lead Us Heavenly Father, Lead Us was sung like an English “hymn” and then in Afro-Caribbean “trumpet” style. This shifting between Eurocentric and Afrocentric aesthetics set the tone for this occasion, vacillating between feeling like a concert performance and a service while not quite hitting the mark of being authentically “spirited”.

Dancers from the Israel Lovell Foundation (Picture credit: The Division of Culture)

Following a CBC-produced documentary celebrating Williams, visiting Bishop Florence Barker “broke ground” delivering a touching Ceremonial Prayer albeit without the usual Spiritual Baptist ritual, and succeeded in establishing the ceremony’s spiritual line, ending with the hymn “Thou My Ever-lasting Portion…” a song of supplication to the Divine.

Three cultural presentations interspersed the programme. First was a brief song tribute of “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past” by Gospel Vocalist Paula Hinds. The second was a spirited presentation by the Israel Lovell Foundation called Divine Forces, featuring, Jaleesa Daisley as ‘Yemaya’, Carole Brathwaite as ‘Oya’, and Wayne ‘Skillet’ Harewood with Kato Austin as ‘Shango’, reflecting the deities of the Orisha faith to a reticent audience. The third was an expert display by Pinelands Creative Workshop, entitled Giving Thanks celebrating West African Lenjen, Coco, Manjani rhythms and singing to the clean execution of a new generation of young dance performers. They also received a reserved response, indicating perhaps that Granvillite route to celebrating Africa may need further decolonizing to embrace our ancestral legacy.

Carol Brathwaite as “Oya”, (Picture credit: The Division of Culture)

Tributes to the late Patriarch flowed from Archdeacon Walrond (Sons of God Apostolic), Bishop Marlon Jones (Mount Pisgah), Ms. Sonia Haynes, (Williams’s granddaughter), Honourable Senator Reginald Farley (reading Genesis 12: 1-3), Rev. Dean Estwick, (Dean of Sons of God Apostolic), and Bishop Simon Rock, one of Williams established churches in Massachusetts, USA.

The official entourage went to unveil of the signs and image connecting the Late Patriarch to the station at Fairchild Street after the Deputy Prime Minister made her address. In this moment, members took the time to rejoice and greet people before the entourage returned and the formal theatre-style auditorium setting resumed. The evening ended with a short jubilation time led by combined members of the Sons of God and fellow churches, followed by a vote of thanks and a closing prayer.

John Hunte PhD is an ordained minister in the Spiritual Baptist faith and Chairman of the Council of Spiritual Baptist Churches of Barbados.

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