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Buxton Village Guyana
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When the community was laid out, provisions were made for the establishment of churches. Buxton has had a branch of all the leading Christian denominations in Guyana. There are the Anglican, Congregational, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Brethren and Pentecostal Churches.
Even the “Wayside” Churches were present. The Salvation Army; Prophet Wills and the Jordanites fulfilled the spiritual needs of those who were less orthodox. Who were the Jordanites? A body named after Nathaniel Jordan, a Buxtonian. He mobilized a mass following for the church much to the envy of the established religious bodies.
Nathaniel Jordan, who worked on a sugar plantation, was attracted to a small group of jubilant worshippers. He got converted in 1919, and went out spreading the Gospel to all who would hear. He named the movement The West Evangelical Millennium Pilgrims (WEMP), but it was popularly known as The Jordanites.
From Buxton, the movement spread to other areas of the East Coast, Georgetown, and East Bank, and the headquarters was established at Agricola, EBD. The Jordanites experienced much harassment from the authorities then, but they survived, in the name of the Lord, unto this day. They are vegetarians, and abstain from alcoholic beverages. Men wear long white robes and white turbans; the women do not press or straighten their hair. They rely on the Old testament for the justification of their beliefs and practices.
The Jordanites is an indigenous religious movement.
Extracted from: “Prophet Wills The Walking Dictionary” by Wayne Jones
ST. AUGUSTINE’S ANGLICAN CHURCH
St. Augustine’s Anglican Church is situated at Friendship, ECD, though it is often referred to as Buxton Anglican Church.
In 1838, John Gardiner Austin, Esq., proprietor of Friendship and brother of Bishop Austin, gave for the erection of the church, school and vicarage this site of two acres at Friendship. A school was built and was used also as a ‘centre of Sunday School and the holding of services by the Cathecist-schoolmaster’ (Mr. Crawford). By 1841, a small church was erected and named after St. Augustine of Hippo.
It must be noted that St, Augustine’s Church was the only church in the post-slavery society to bear the name of an African saint-Augustine of Hippo, born in Tagaste, Algeria in 354, and who became bishop of Hippo on the same continent after a foremost thinker and writer on church doctrine.
In 1882, this Church was known as St. Augustine’s Chapel and was part of the parish of St. Paul’s which began at Cummings Lodge and ended at Nooten Zuil. Along with the renovation of 1882, Rev. T.J. Moulder was instrumental in raising the funds needed to make secure the St. Augustine’s churchyard. The familiar continuous iron fencing with its seven bars, so arranged as to exclude pigs and goats, was erected in 1884.
Another relic of the late 19th Century, and a magnificent gift, is the iron Alter rail. Two parishioners, Messrs. Moore and Louncke were the artificers. Their hearts were in their work so they produced a fine specimen of iron and brass work. Thanks for this gift were also due to Mr. Wolseley who gave the materials and permitted the work to be carried out in the foundry at Lusignan. The wrought iron pulpit was made by Messrs. Fox and King around this same time (1898-1899).
The Pulpit was designed by the Curate and constructed over a period of 18 months. Both the rails and pulpit are monuments of ‘earnest, self-denying, cheerful labour’, voluntary labour of honest servants of the Church.
Written by Sister Blanche E. Duke for the commemoration of St. Augustine’s Anglican Church 165th Anniversary in 2006.
St. Augustine’s, in the past, enjoyed the luxury of having its own resident priest. This luxury is no longer available to us since Rev. Father Elias is shared between St. Augustine’s and St. Mary-ye-Virgin at BV. This situation has, in some way, diminished the total involvement of Father Elias in administering some aspects of the traditional church programmes. Nevertheless, spiritual inspiration is imparted resolutely at Sunday Mass and mid-week service on Wednesdays. Over 100 lapsed members were restored from the time of Fr. Elias’ appointment in 1999.
The traditional Patronal Tea & Dance, proceeds from which the church depended on to meet its Diocesan obligation, came to an abrupt end in 2001. Notwithstanding, parishioners were taught and reminded the importance of direct giving to God.
In the interest of the development and welfare of parishioners, the Church, through the Vestry continues to assist necessitous families and children. Visits are also made to the sick and shut-ins. The spirit of caring is extended to senior citizens of the wider community.
Secretary to Vestry (2006)
ARUNDEL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
This church was first built at Plantation Nogg Eens, south westerly of where it now stands. During those days, there was tremendous fear that the plantation was being threatened by erosion, and it was felt that the Atlantic Ocean would soon claim the building and the land on which it stood. The large plot of land, on which the church now stands was donated by Mr. Carter, a former slave and grandfather of the late George Carter, who later became a staunch deacon of Arundel. The cornerstone of this edifice was laid on 24th November, 1844.
The church was dedicated to the late Rev. John Arundel, Home Secretary of the London Missionary Society. He was also an ardent abolitionist who supported the efforts of the early missionaries to bring relief to our forefathers.
The structure, being made out of wood, showed signs of deterioration, and it was the fervent desire of our foreparents that this structure be maintained and repaired. To this end, the first set of repairs and renovation were carried out under the guidance of Brother Bobby Carter, father of the late Alphonso Carter and grandfather of Dr. Leslie Carter, the Regional Government Medical Officer.
The church was rededicated by the late Rev. Patrick Matthews, and the ribbon on the new southern door was cut by his wife, the late Una Matthews.
According to church records, the cost of repairs amounted to the tidy sum of $57,000. In 1992, carpentry, plumbing and painting works were undertaken under strict supervision by the then Church Secretary. Brothers Compton Samuels and Neville Samuels undertook a massive job. Fortunately, on this occasion, the Church was blessed with an abundance of voluntary labour and gifts, so expenses were a little more than $250,000.
Some of the outstanding families who have been part of the Arundel Congregational Church for more than 165 years include the names:
Bathersfield Carter Duke
Edwards Gill Grenada
Herod Hutson Jarvis
John Marcus McEwan
Munroe Payne Phillips
Portsmouth Samuels Thomas
The seed of Arundel was planted by our ancestors shortly after their freedom from slavery. Theirs was the vision to lay a foundation which would propel future generations to build and prosper.
Buxton Congregational School
The school was an integral part of Arundel Church, and all who attended this school had to develop a high standard of moral attitude and behavioural patterns. There was the tradition of Friday Morning services over in the church with choruses, hymns, and Bible stories.
Anyone who grew up in Buxton up to the late 1970’s, if asked to name the schools in Buxton, would speak of Missionary School, situated at Buxton Front. The use of the word “missionary” speaks volumes of the pioneering role played by the Congregational Church in providing education to our people, not only in Buxton-Friendship, but throughout Guyana. This symbolic relationship was enhanced by the contributions made by both the pastors and head teachers.
Information provided by Rev. Paulette Hannibal
Friendship Methodist Church
Methodism in Buxton/Friendship
This new faith reached the twin villages of Buxton-Friendship about the year 1843. It seems as though that Methodism by-passed these villages to serve other areas, especially Mahaica and Victoria, before coming here.
The introduction of Methodism in Friendship was due to the efforts of Reverend William Hudson of the Victoria Circuit. Mention must be made that one Rev. Charles Cleave, who was in charge of the Anglican Chapel in Enmore, left his “flock” and joined Rev. Hudson in spreading Methodism in Friendship. Even before there was no building, he started a “Society for Methodists.” Services were held under a large tamarind tree which was cut down sometime in the late 1930s. It seems as though that this tree guarded the eastern entrance of the present compound.
Meetings by both of these Ministers were held at the “Great House”, located on the recreation ground; so called, as the Great Manager occupied it when the village was a plantation. Later, a large Logie was purchased in the area where services were to be held. Around the same time, the transfer status from Victoria to Friendship took place and the Circuit became known as the Friendship Circuit, a status Friendship has enjoyed up to this day.
Services were held in this Logie until 1853, and the Minister then was Rev. James Banfield. A dispute arose among the Minister, proprietors and the people, and the people decided to show their anger with the Minister by removing the stairs from the high building during the night while he was asleep. Shortly after, the Minister left the district showing his displeasure by wiping the dust of the village from his feet. The dispute did not end there. The Methodists had to vacate the Logie and a long legal battle ensued. The congregation was determined that efforts, so well established, should not fail. They rented a large building at Buxton which had belonged to the “Brethren” denomination. Services at this building began on Christmas day, 1853 and the Rev. Wrench from Mahaica officiated. Immediately, church members started a fund to collect money with a view of erecting their own chapel. Encouraged by the people’s response, church authorities petitioned the Governor and the Court of Policy for a grant of €2,000 ($9,600) to aid them with the project. Records do not indicate that the money was granted.
On Covenant Sunday 1855, the congregation realized that the Buxton chapel had become congested. It was only about twelve years earlier that a congregation was assembled in this village, consisting of only six or seven persons, through the exertions of the Rev. W. Hudson; since which time, his labours have been singularly successful. The congregation had increased to 300 communicants, besides a large number of regular hearers. In the day school there were 150 children, and about as many more in the Sabbath-school.
On 1st August, 1855 the foundation stone for a new building was laid. The oration was delivered by a Rev. John Corlette and the stone was laid by the Government Secretary, the Hon. William Walker. A large number of people attended this occasion. After the dedication by the Rev. John Corlette and remarks by the Government Secretary, a parchment containing a record of events was read by Rev. William Cleaver and placed by the Government Secretary in a glass bottle. Coins, then in circulation were also placed in the bottle which was tightly sealed. The Government Secretary then solemnly pronounced these words: “I have placed this memorial of our present service to indicate to future generations the foundation of this building, not to be revealed till all have assembled shall have turned to conniption.” When the stone was adjusted in its place, he struck it three times with a mallet saying, “I pronounce this stone well and truly laid, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” The foundation stone was laid in the presence of several thousand of inhabitants of the village and neighborhood.
1st August, 1856 was a historic and glorious day in the village of Friendship. Exactly one year after the corner stone was laid, the “Friendship Methodist Edifice” was opened for Religious Worship. A special train brought people near and far from other parts of the Colony. Total collections for that special day amounted to €109.9s ($525.35). “Wesleyan Methodism, here and elsewhere, in its beginning had to struggle with many difficulties. It was then ' small as a human hand: now it is spreading itself, or, rather, is being spread by God, in every direction. Like the mustard-seed in the Gospel, it has become a pretty ‘great tree;' a tree sheltering many souls under its branches.”
In 1955, the old church celebrated its centenary and received many glowing tributes from sons, daughters and friends near and far. In 1961, under the superintendence of Rev. C.F.H. Alleyne, the old building was demolished and sold as it had become structurally unsafe. Plans were made to erect a new building.
The building by then was in a state of serious disrepair. After more than 106 years, wooden buildings that are not given necessary attention can be ravaged by tropical climatic conditions, especially when they stand exposed to sun and rain with no nearby “shelter belt” of trees to offer some protection. I remember the huge amount of slate that came from the roof. That amount of slate on the roof imparted much of the architectural character. It defined the style and contributed to the building's aesthetics.
Between 1961 and 1966, all church services were held in the school building. With the help of a monetary contribution from the Methodist Missionary Society in England, a new building was opened in 1966. The minister then was the Rev. S. Willis. The contractor was Mr. Oscar Spencer, father of Rev. Glenna Spencer, current District President & General Superintendent of the Methodist Church in Guyana.
St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church in British Guiana owes its existence, expansion and growth to the Portuguese who first came to here in 1835 as indentured emigrants to satisfy the labor hunger of the Planters. Although previously there had been intermittent visits of Catholic priests to the Colony, it was not until December 9, 1825 that the building of the first Roman Catholic Church was begun and opened by the rev. J. Hayes, OP, in 1827. From Madeira, the Portuguese had brought not only their agricultural and commercial skills, but their devotion to their religion – the Catholic Faith. The roots of their faith went deep; their devotion was marked by the simplicity and exuberance of a “folk religion” which sometimes was misunderstood and their faith was branded by some as a “Madeiran type of Catholicism.” March 1857 marked the beginning of an organized mission by The Society of Jesus in British Guiana with the arrival of James Etheridge, SJ, Aloysius Emiliani and Fr. Clemant Negri from Naples.
St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church is located in the twin villages of Buxton/Friendship. There was a Mass Station in this area as far back as 1862. With the increase in Catholics and in particular the Portuguese community in this area, there was need for a proper church, This church was opened on the 19th on November, 1871 and blessed by Bishop James Etheridge SJ, and dedicated to St. Anthony. It is one of the larger Catholic churches on the East Coast and still retains most of its internal architectural designs even though its tower was taken down in 1984. Above the front entrance houses a large bell.
Like other East Coast Catholic churches it was sited near the railway. St. Anthony’ is physically located on Friendship Middle Walk in Friendship Village, however, Catholic custom refers to it as Buxton Church. The high altar was made in 1905 and houses a shrine of St. Anthony at the top with three small arches containing angels on either side of the Tabernacle. Two side altars made of nicely designed wood are dedicated to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady.
It is recorded that this parish community celebrated the golden jubilee of Pope Leo XIII in 1893 with lavish events, processions of its various Guilds and Societies ending in the evening with Illuminations, fireworks and other decorations. In addition, the celebrations for the Feast of St. Anthony were of a grand scale including the blessing and distribution of St. Anthony’s Bread.
The first resident priest at St. Anthony’s was Fr. John Purcell in 1892. Fr. Purcell a diocesan Priest was a Jamaican who offered to work in British Guiana in the time of Bishop Anthony Butler. Fr. Purcell also had the difficult task of traveling to Bartica once a month to minister to the needs of Catholics there. It was he who was responsible for building the small concrete church at Mahaicony. The longest serving priest at St. Anthony’s, from 1936 to mid 1970’s, was Fr. Emmanuel da Silva. He was the second Guyanese and third Diocesan priest.
This church still carries on the tradition of devotions to St. Anthony every Tuesday. Its feast day is celebrated on the 13th of June.
Vanessa Phillips and Francis Canzius contributed vital information for this article.
Note: Anyone with updated information is invited to contact Rollo Younge at E-mail: email@example.com or Telephone: 592-274 0572 (Guyana)
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