A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America, Part 3

A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America, Part 3  By Rev. Andrew Samuels   For the past two months, we have published the first two portions of an article written by Rev. Andrew Samuels describing the relationship between the USA/Canada and Jamaican Conferences. This is the third and final installment of that article, continuing in a list of characteristics that have contributed to the proliferation of Jamaican pastors serving in pastoral roles in North America.   A Mission-Oriented Spirit   Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have taken seriously the Great Commission given to the church by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That commission is articulated in the four Gospels and in the book of Acts. It commands us to make disciples as we go into all the world. This disciple-making business has driven Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists to be zealous about their faith. They have been very focused on accomplishing this mission as the Lord has enabled them. Significant limitations in personnel, material resources, and meeting space have often threatened to undo many of the efforts in their embryonic stages. But the mission was the focus, and there was the conviction that it was bigger than the constraints.   A Church-Planting Spirit   As has been expressed earlier, over the last 40 years, Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have planted 16 churches and groups in North America. Anyone who has ever been close to a church plant, knows what a difficult venture that is. A significant number of church plants end up failing because of the challenging nature of that undertaking. In every case, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that there have been tremendous obstacles, monumental setbacks, and great hardships; yet there has also been persistence, perseverance, and an indefatigable attitude. Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have typically never been satisfied to simply become integrated into a church of another denomination. Even if such integration is done for a brief period of time, before long the church-planting spirit rises up and looks for ways to be released.   An Entrepreneurial Spirit   Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have exhibited incredible creativity in practicing their faith as they venture into new territories, carry out...

A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America

A Two Way Street:  Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America

Aug 25, 2014

A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America Part 2  By Rev. Andrew Samuels   Last month, we began a series of three articles from Rev. Andrew Samuels detailing the relationship between the SDB Conferences in the USA & Canada and Jamaica.  This is the second of those three articles.  This series will be concluded in next month’s Recorder.   There is no question that the American Missionary Society and the Jamaica Conference intentionally cooperated in moving toward handing the reins of the work over to the native leaders. Concerted efforts were made to train such leaders, financial provision was made to support this initiative, and the sense was that an investment was being made in the Jamaican personnel; one which was hoped to produce rewarding returns. Not only did the Americans work towards training Jamaican leaders in Jamaica, but they also identified one individual who was selected to travel to the United States to be educated with the goal of him returning to Jamaica to impart his formal training to his compatriots.   Socrates Thompson was the beneficiary of this arrangement. In 1946 he began studying at Alfred University in New York, from which he graduated, and followed that up with the completion of a Bachelor’s degree at Milton College. Both are Seventh Day Baptist educational institutions. He did return to Jamaica in 1950 and served on the field there. It is more than fitting that history will record him as the first Jamaican to serve as pastor of a Seventh Day Baptist Church in the United States. That stewardship began at the New York City SDB Church in the mid-1970’s.   Since then, approximately 26 others have migrated from that tiny Caribbean island to North America and have served in a pastoral capacity stretching along the eastern seaboard from Toronto, Canada in the north to Miami, Florida in the south, and even across to Los Angeles, California on the west coast. Only about five of them were not Seventh Day Baptists when they lived in Jamaica, but became affiliated with the denomination after migrating to the North American continent. The records will also show that approximately 17 churches and groups...

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,...

Correcting Mistakes, Part 3

Correcting Mistakes, Part 3 by Oscar Burdick          Note from Nick: This is the last of three articles correcting significant errors published about English SDB history found in Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, Volume 1 and 2, which was published by the General Conference in 1910.        We remind you that a document containing corrections (listed by page numbers) is available on the Historical Society’s website: www.sdbhistory.org. These corrections spring from Oscar Burdick’s extensive work on this subject over many years as he has worked to research and write an authoritative work on English SDBs.   • About Edward Stennet[t], and several false assertions about him: Now that the death date and age are known for Edward Stennet[t], November 21, 1705, age 77, he must have been born in 1627 or 1628. He could not then be a priest opponent of Theophilus Brabourne (1632 book). Stennet was a Baptist by 1656, and Seventh Day by 1658 or before, and lived at Abingdon so could not have been a sequestered Church of England priest at Wallingford in 1662. About the later generations of the Stennett family: Joseph Stennett, a son of Joseph Stennett, Jr. was probably not an SDB. Joseph the son of Dr. Samuel Stennett was not a Sabbathkeeper. That there was a “Samuel Stennet I” seems to be an assumption concerning a later man, a Dr. Samuel Stennett cousin; the description of an earlier Samuel I appears to be assumptions partly based on a different Stennett. • Westmancote, Worcestershire was simply the address of the Natton pastor, Rev. John Miller, not the location of a distinct congregation there in 1829. About the existence of a Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Swansey, Wales, under the leadership of Ephraim Wheaton: Swanzey, Wales is a misunderstanding of Swanzey in Massachusetts; the congregation was in America, not Wales. This congregation does not appear to have been SDB, though some members may have held seventh-day views for a period of time. • There were no SDB churches in Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire in the 1600s. This is a misunderstanding of a reference from a newspaper article in 1901. The misunderstood quote in the article about Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire...

Correcting Mistakes, Part 2

Correcting Mistakes, Part 2 by Oscar Burdick Note from Nick: This is the second of three articles begun last month correcting significant errors published about English SDB history found in Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, Volume 1 and 2, which was published by the General Conference in 1910. We remind you that a document containing corrections (listed by page numbers) is available on the Historical Society’s website: www.sdbhistory.org. These corrections spring from Oscar Burdick’s extensive work on this subject over many years as he has researched to write an authoritative work on English SDBs. • About the assertion that John Traske was a Seventh Day Baptist in 1617, and started the Mill Yard SDB church (an assertion which has been frequently repeated in sources beyond SDBs in Europe and America): John Traske kept the Seventh Day Sabbath only briefly; his only publication about it was his recantation (published in 1620). He was not a Baptist. There is no Traske organic or personal connection with Seventh Day Baptists. The incorrect connection of Traske to “Mill Yard” came through two men with the surname Coppinger, one of whom was supposed to have been a follower of Traske, and then another who was subsequently a member at “Mill Yard” in the 1650s. Subsequent investigation has proven that these were actually two men with different first names, neither of whom was ever associated with Traske or his followers. Edmund Coppinger’s name appears very near Traske’s in a book by Ephraim Pagitt (Heresiography, published in 1662), which led some to falsely conclude there was a connection between the two, though Edmund died in 1591 in prison. Matthew Coppinger was a Sabbathkeeper who participated in a public debate about the Sabbath along with two prominent SDBs in 1659. With this information—that Traske was never a Baptist, and that the supposed connection between Traske and “Mill Yard” through Coppinger does not exist—the only conclusion is that the 1617 date for the founding of the Mill Yard, London, congregation is also not correct. It is likely that the proper date of the “Mill Yard” congregation would be 1657 or before. • About the end of the Traske movement: According to...

Correcting Mistakes, Part 1

Correcting Mistakes, Part 1 by Oscar Burdick   The writing of the English section of Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America1 has been plagued with errors. Once something is published it is easy to assume everything is true! When volumes one and two were published, a review said, “…much critical work [needs] to be done on the English sections.”2 The English sections are so bad that anyone using them is urged to first get the current list of corrections from the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society (available on our website under “Resources”). Even non-SDB writers are not immune from mistakes/assumptions. The mistakes are not confined to dates. The following is a sampling of errors, but one is urged to get the SDB Historical Society’s larger list.3   •About early Sabbath proponent Theophilus Brabourne’s relationship to Seventh Day Baptists: Theophilus Brabourne’s many books for the Seventh Day were influential, but he always remained a priest in the Church of England. •About James Ockford’s book, The Doctrine of the Fourth Commandment: Now that a copy of Ockford’s first book has been found, the publication date is 1650. •About the Mumfords coming to America as SDB missionaries from London: In 1661 John Cowell and a few others of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, Baptist Church became Seventh Day Sabbath observers. Among the 1663 members were Stephen Mumford and Sister Mumford who arrived in Rhode Island early in 1665. That the Mumfords came as missionaries from the Bell Lane SDB church in London has been disproved by a May 26, 1668 letter from Bell Lane to Rhode Island.4 The Mumfords’ Sabbath observing clearly led five Newport, RI First Baptist Church members to the Seventh Day. Tension became so great that these five separated from that church in 1671. Soon with the Mumfords they formed the first SDB church in America with seven members. (It is clear now that the Mumfords did not join First Baptist.) •John James, who was hanged and quartered November 27 (not 26), 1661, was not a religious martyr but a political one. William Saller (not John James) appears to have been the pastor of the Saller-Soursbey-Mill Yard SDB Church in London from some time at least...