By Gerald V. Paul
“Welcome to our Liberation Celebration of 64 years of freedom. We are no longer worshiping in hiding, nor are we ashamed to praise our God,” said Archbishop Dr. Deloris D. Seiveright of the National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith Archdiocese (known as the Shouters), marking their Anniversary Celebration Liberation last Sunday.
Seiveright said that freedom is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God. She it was with His Spirit for 34 years that Shouters Spiritual Baptist Church fought for freedom in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is through their efforts that we have been allowed to worship freely,” she told the gathering at 63 Mack Ave.
Christian in their beliefs, their cultural roots and African traditions are embraced with pride and joy. “We are a role model for the future generation,” Seiveright told The Camera.
The recipient of numerous awards said she can recall in the 70’s 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. The faith grew in Toronto as people began to understand the faith.
Seiveright said they are a collection of small dynamic groups, a grassroots church helping the poor and needy.
“The faith has always believed in feeding the needy and working close with government leaders. People look to the Spiritual Baptists for encouragement and counseling. We are caregivers and spiritual workers who enlighten the community and embrace the youth in faith.”
March 30 will mark exactly 19 years since Shouters was recognized with a public holiday by former prime minister Basdeo Panday of Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Vidhya Gyan Tota-Maharaj, consul general of Trinidad and Tobago, brought greetings on behalf of the staff of the consulate and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Shouters Spiritual Baptist Community must be lauded for the strength and tenacity demonstrated in overcoming the challenges faced in the first half of the 20th century, in a time when they were not accorded the most basic right of worshipping without fear of persecution,” Tota-Maharaj said.
“We must therefore use this time for reflection on the hardships endured and the bravery and fortitude of those who worked at having the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance of 1917 revoked in 1951.”
Greetings also came from Lloyd Wilks, consul general of Jamaica, and from Rev. Earl Smith of the Church of Scientology.