Jamaican SDB Pastors In North America

Jamaican SDB Pastors In North America

By Rev. Andy Samuels



Over the last 40 years—approximately the span of a generation—no less than 27 Jamaicans or men of Jamaican descent have served as Pastor, Assistant Pastor, or Associate Pastor of a Seventh Day Baptist Church in North America. That is quite a remarkable occurrence when considered from any angle, and by any measurement. But what are some of the factors that have led to that phenomenal development?


A little historical background is useful here. In 1923, the first contact from Sabbathkeepers in Jamaica to Seventh Day Baptists in the United States was made. A

denomination called Free Seventh-day Adventist was crumbling and individuals in one of those churches found themselves in possession of a publication called “The Voice.” This publication was published by Pastor Robert St. Clair, pastor of the Detroit, Michigan SDB Church, who received a letter from Jamaica. The individuals were very interested in what they had read.


Pastor St. Clair and the Northwestern Association responded to the inquiry by sending to Jamaica one of their pastors, Clifford Hansen, along with the Corresponding Secretary of the SDB Missionary Society, William Burdick. The visit was a fruitful one because at the end of a period of visiting churches, studying, teaching, and preaching, a group of 14 former Free Seventh-day Adventist Churches decided to become Seventh Day Baptist.


By 1927, it had become clear that the churches in Jamaica needed help on the field, and so a series of long-term American missionaries were sent to aid in the work. These included Rev. and Mrs. Burdette Coon, Rev. and Mrs. Gerald Hargis, Rev. Luther Crichlow, Rev. and Mrs. Wardner Fitz Randolph and Rev. and Mrs. Leon Lawton. Their collective service extended until 1964.


During this period, the need for trained native workers was prominently entrenched in the minds of both the Americans and the Jamaicans. As a response to the growing sense that the Jamaica Conference would need to have trained leaders to succeed their benefactors from the north, Crandall High School was opened in 1948 with the objective of providing a high school education to Seventh Day Baptist children, as well as early training for ministry to those so inclined.


The list of principals supplied to Crandall High School by the American SDB Missionary Society spans from 1948-1978. It includes Rev. and Mrs. Neal Mills, Dr. and Mrs. Orville Bond, Mr. and Mrs. Grover Brissey, Mr. and Mrs. Courtland Davis, Mr. Wayne Crandall, and Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Mackintosh.


Andy Samuels is the pastor of the Miami, FL SDB Church, chairman of the Standing Committee on Faith and Order, and the General Secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation.



            The Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society voted at its annual meeting, June 1, to pursue merger with the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, USA & Canada. The vote was 89 to 8 in favor of pursuing merger. This included votes of members present at the meeting and those sending proxy votes of “yes” or “no” on the specific question. In response, the Society will begin work on a formal merger agreement which would assure continuation of the Society’s work through a Historical Council of the Conference. The hope is that the merger agreement would be ready for vote by Society members in 2015 with probable vote by the General Conference in 2016, the 100-year anniversary of the Society.

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