More than 100 members of the National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist faith or Shouter Baptists, as they are called, along with several of their leaders, celebrated 100 years of the advent of their faith and 66 years of its ” liberation” on Sunday at their church on Mack Avenue in Scarborough.
It was a time of celebration as well as devotion.
In keeping with the biblical injunction ” to make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” there was the traditional drumming, rhythmic handclapping and hymn singing at the service.
In a message to the gathering, Archbishop Deloris Seiveright noted that it was 46 years since the Shouter Spiritual Baptist faith was established in Canada.
She recalled the period in the 1970s when Caribbean Canadians were ” looking for spiritual churches with head wraps and white robes.
” The immigrants settled, established ethnic enclaves and joined the Spiritual Baptists and the Revivalists.”
Noting that the faith grew in Toronto, she said “our cultural roots along with African traditions are embraced with pride and joy.”
Archbishop Seiveright also reminded the gathering of the “liberators of the faith” – a clear reference to those who fought against the laws in Trinidad and Tobago, enacted in 1917, which banned Shouter Baptists from practicing their religion in the country where it developed in the 19th century.
” The liberators were truly our role model. We stand proud and vibrant because they provided the now and the future,” she said.
(The legislation banning the Shouter Baptists was repealed in March 1951.)
Speaking at the service, Cherrone Mokund, acting consul general of Trinidad and Tobago, noted that 21 years ago, the anniversary of the “liberation” of the people of the Shouter Baptist faith became a national holiday in the two-island republic – ” a day on which we should reflect on the hardships faced by those resolute to worship freely and the triumph that is possible when faith and determination meet.”
(The holiday- Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day – is celebrated annually in Trinidad and Tobago on March 30..)