Spiritual Baptist religion
Shouter Baptist faith Shouter Baptist faith is a syncreticAfro-American religion which combines elements of traditional African religion with Christianity. Despite the African influences, Spiritual Baptists consider themselves to be Christians.
History The Baptist faith was brought to Trinidad by the "Merikens", former American slaves who were recruited by the British to fight, as the Corps of Colonial Marines, against the Americans during the War of 1812. After the end of the war, these ex-slaves were settled in Trinidad, to the east of the Mission of Savannah Grande (now known as Princes Town) in six villages, since then called The Company Villages.
History These American settlers brought with them the Baptist faith of the Second Great Awakening combined with, in the case of those from Georgia, the Gullah culture. With the coming of missionaries of the Baptist Missionary Society from Great Britain, the Baptist faith in the Company Villages was much affected, but despite the ensuing schism between the so-called London Baptists and the rest, the Baptist congregations of the Company Villages, even including those with Gullah origins, retained so little visible African influence in their practice that John Hackshaw was able to give a different view of the Baptists in the north of the country
Name The name Shouter derives from the fact that when the Baptists "catch the Spirit", they clap and shout, making a loud noise that, especially during open air services, some in the general public may object to. "Shouter" is seen as a derogatory term by many modern day Baptists on the island, seeing as it was first originally imposed upon them by the mainstream, the British colonialgovernment.
Prohibition The activities of the Spiritual Baptists in Trinidad and Tobago were prohibited in 1917 by the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance, which was eventually repealed in 1951. The late opposition parliamentarian Ashford Sinanan moved to repeal the ordinance under the PNM government and was successful. Today Spiritual Baptists can practice their religion freely. The United National Congress granted them a national holiday (cf. below) and also gave them land on which to establish their headquarters.
Holiday In 1996 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago granted a public holiday to the Spiritual Baptist faith, to be celebrated on March 30, called Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day, in memory of the struggle and in recognition of the repeal of the prohibition laws.Trinidad and Tobago is the only country that celebrates a public holiday for the Spiritual Baptist faith.
practices There are several practices that are important to Baptist these include: • Baptism • Mourning • Pilgrimages • Commemoration to the dead • Bands • Doption • Specking in tongues
Practices continue • Roadside preaching/missions • Praying out loud • Mode of dress
Symbolic sacred item • Alter: is the highest level in the church, and is the symbol of belief, prayers, praise and worship. • Bell: used in the beginning of the service to call members to worship. • Shepherd’s Rod and Staff: symbolizes the divine authority and virtue of the office of the shepherd. • Centre pole: is the central point of the church where members prayers are offered, • Water: used for washing, consecrating, cleansing and drinking.
Continuation • Candles and candlestick: candlestick symbolizes the Baptist Church and the candles, the spirits of the church. • Lothar: a vessel used I the church to symbolizes the holy state of the man before God in worship and contains water and flowers. • Taria: vessel used to symbolizes the circle of divinity within which man places himself in worship before God. • Incense: used to provide a sweet aroma to symbolize the prayer of faithful.
Shango Baptists Many Spiritual Baptist churches have overlapping memberships with practitioners of the Trinidad Orisha religion. In Trinidad, Orisha is also called Shango, and the term "Shango Baptist" is sometimes used to describe worshipers who are involved with both Spiritual Baptism and Orisha/Shango. The term "Shango Baptist" has come to have negative connotations for some worshipers of both Spiritual Baptism and Orisha/Shango, who argue that those who say "Shango Baptist" conflate the two religions, when in fact they are separate. As some have said, "There is no thing as Shango Baptist. Shango is Shango. Baptist is Baptist". Others say that Shango Baptists simply "wear two hats"; their mixture of "Baptist and Orisha practices" is a result of similar oppression by Colonial authorities in Trinidad.
Places of worship Barbados • The Cathedral Church of Jerusalem – Ealing Grove, Christ Church • Beulah Temple – Bishops, St. Lucy • Zion Apostolic Temple – Richmond Gap, St. Michael United States • Bethlehem Church – Brooklyn, New York • Pillar of Fire Church – Dorchester, Massachusetts • Scarlet Cord Church – New Bedford, Massachusetts Trinidad & Tobago • Holy Faith Spiritual Baptist Tabernacle