After years of neglect, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has once again pledged to give some assistance to the Spiritual Baptist community in Tobago.
Augustine was speaking during Thursday’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day celebrations at Signal Hill themed – Let Us Give Thanks Unto The Most High God – which followed a procession from the Orange Hill traffic lights, Claude Noel Highway, to the Baptists’ incomplete, multi-purpose facility. The formal celebration took place there.
President of the Tobago United Spiritual Baptist Association (TUSBA) Bishop John Carrington, of the Mt Bethel Spiritual Baptist Church, in addressing those gathered, heaped praises on former chief secretary Orville London for granting the lands but hastened to outline the struggles of the organisation. In March 2006, members of the Spiritual Baptist community were presented with three acres on a 99-year lease to facilitate the construction of the educational complex. To date, an incomplete two-storey structure remains on the property.
“Today, as we celebrate with joy, we are able to do this in this space again. It’s not our first time here and it wouldn’t be the last – maybe the last down here, the next time we go upstairs. I usually say, sometimes we forget our dreams but I 'en forget mine – my dream is that we are going to be upstairs.”
He recalled the handover by London, saying that following that, the battle was only beginning.
“We started this building a good while, as we journey it took some time – we began the building, but the journey started to become a little harder to climb but we trusted a God who is abundantly able to do what he says he can do. This battle going on in our lives – sometimes folks get despondent, disillusioned and they started to doubt their faith and in doing that they draw back but the faithful few still hold on. We were able to spend $1.9 million on where we occupy.”
He said it is a long, long way to go, but there is a victory to be won.
“So, I want to urge all of us, don’t be despaired, don’t be discouraged. The enemy would put stumbling blocks in our way but Jesus knows how to roll away stones before us.”
He added: “We look forward with great anticipation, knowing that the God who has brought us to this place, the God who has our hearts to start this construction is the same God who we trust to take us safely through. I believe that if God take us to it, he would take us through it – it’s not the best and I believe that before the year ends, we will have this place comfortable. And the next time we assemble on this property of Spiritual Baptist faith in Tobago – upstairs not downstairs is because God have done it.”
In response, Augustine said in 2021, he told the Baptist community that he would work with them to complete the structure. He said since then he has met with a small team.
“They indicated what they wanted. A team from the Division of Infrastructure actually came – without your permission, looked at what you have, and they are building out the scope of what would be needed for this place to be completed.”
With many other religions represented, he said he didn’t want them to be “jealous or to come knocking on the door and to say I want too.” He said with the scarcity of resources, the assembly should be allowed in this season to treat with the faith that was neglected the most.
“I think there is need for some historical justice. The Central Government has given to those in Trinidad – they have schools, they have a large sum, they have temples built and so on, and I think the Tobago House of Assembly has to give more than give a piece of barren land. We have to ensure the land bear fruits and so we would work with you to accomplish the dream so that hopefully next year, we’re no longer downstairs we would be upstairs – but we would work together on it as fast as possible.”