The First Baptist Church at Welches was the scene of a big celebration on Sunday, March 18, where fifty years of the Baptist Ministry in Anguilla was celebrated.
The event attracted a large gathering from throughout the island including Government and Opposition members. Among the congregation were a number of Pastors whose ministry was directly, or indirectly, impacted by the pioneering work of the late Pastor Freeman Goodge.
Jerome Roberts, Elected Representative for East End/Sandy Hill, speaking on behalf of the Government, commended the Baptist Ministry for its work on the island over the past fifty years. He was pleased with the Church’s assistance in dealing with the social ills of the Anguillian society and offered his best wishes for the continued work of its Ministry.
The Anniversary Service was presided over by Pastor NorrilGumbs, the current Minister at theFirstBaptistChurch, who has been in the Ministry for forty-nine years.
A history of the establishment of theBaptistChurchin Anguilla was delivered by Pastor Cecil Richardson ofCentralBaptistChurch. He recalled that the Ministry was introduced by Pastor Freeman Goodge who arrived in Anguilla in 1962 with his family fromNorthern Ireland. The early Church was established at the Woodbine in The Valley and later in the nearbyAnguillianBuildingbefore moving to a section of a building owned by Pastor Davis Lloyd atIslandHarbour.
A Church building was eventually constructed lower down in that village and named the Island Harbour Baptist Church.A number of Anguillian Pastors, and others from outside the island, served there over the years. Later a new Church building, called the First Baptist Church, was erected at Welches. A number of other Churches were established as a result of the work of Pastor Freeman Goodge: Hilltop Baptist Church;CentralBaptistChurch;Sovereign Grace Baptist Church;Faith Baptist Church and Destiny Church.
Two main messages were presented during the service. The first was delivered by Pastor Gary Goodge who previously served in French Guiana and is now serving inFrance. He spoke of his early life inAnguillaand the ministry of his father. He was pleased to see that the work of the Church had expanded and encouraged all involved to continue pressing forward.
The second message was delivered by Pastor Beltane Harrigan, an Anguillian Minister serving inSt. Croix. He joined Pastor Cecil Richardson in expressing gratitude for the spiritual growth of the Church and for the many Pastors, and other workers, whose work in Anguilla and abroad stemmed from the humble beginnings of theBaptistChurchon the island. He stressed the importance of the Baptist Ministry, its steadfastness and the guidance of God over the years.
Pastor Harrigan, who is noted for his social work, as part of his ministry, spoke to the Government and Opposition leaders inAnguillaabout their important role in society and their need for spiritual guidance.
Earlier, other persons who spoke were the President of the West Indies Baptist Fellowship, Pastor Cyril Gumbs who is based in Trinidad; Pastors John Gumbs and Quincy Gumbs of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church; Cephas Webster; Gareth Hodge of Destiny Church; and Charles Holston (of the Cayman Islands) who once served at the Island Harbour Baptist Church, and who knew Pastor Freeman Goodge in the Cayman Islands before he pioneered the Baptist Ministry in Anguilla.