By anguillian August 17, 2015 09:05



The front page of the bulletin for the Emancipation Thanksgiving Service at Bethel Methodist Church on Sunday, August 2, depicted a group of slaves in revelry back on August 1, 1834. That was when slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire – 181 years ago.



The special service at the Methodist Church, where the preacher was the Reverend Dr. Wycherley Gumbs – as well as the one at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, where leading churchman, Mr. Marcel Fahie, also preached – heralded the August Monday holiday week in Anguilla. The first week of that month is an annual celebration which has its roots in our ancestors’ freedom from slavery and the merriment that followed.





At Bethel Church, where The Anguillian was invited, rich African colours popped up everywhere throughout the capacity congregation led by the attractively-attired Bethel Augmented Choir under the direction of Mrs. Lois Hazell-Corbin. The young people of the church also joined the choir in some of the singing which, to some extent, portrayed aspects of the liberation of the slaves.

In his sermon, Rev. Dr. Gumbs, known for his emphasis and writings on ancestry and emancipation, had as his theme “Lest We Forget”. He painted a gruesome picture of suffering and death as slaves, chained to the “belly” of crowded ships, were transported on trans-Atlantic voyages from Africa to the Caribbean to be sold to white slave masters in the British colonies. He stressed that in their situation our ancestors, under the cruel lash of task masters, preferred death rather than life. He was pleased to see in the congregation what he described as “the colours of the rainbow and the colours of survival”, which depicted the freedom and celebration of our African forebears.


The Minister declared that on August 1, 1834, when the slaves were eventually freed – “it was not man who set them free, but rather God” and that their freedom “was marvellous in our eyes”. He, however, spoke in discordant tones of how liberated people, down to this age, had forgotten from whence they came, and had turned to such idols as money and other forms of material gain, and worship rather than remember the goodness of God. His admonition was for all persons to contemplate from where they emerged as a free people – “lest we forget”.

The ageing Bethel Methodist Church stands as a symbol of an ancestral period, having been originally built by the toil and sweat of slaves. It now affords a panoramic view of Road Bay, Sandy Ground, one of the main places for the celebration of the annual August holiday week and Emancipation Day.es3

By anguillian August 17, 2015 09:05


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