Shouter Baptists against sharing proposed Couva cathedral

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Members of the congregation sing at the Spiritual Shouter Baptist
Liberation Day celebrations, held at the Council of Elders Empowerment
Hall, Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Maloney on March 30.

Spiritual Shouter Baptist Council of Elders protocol officer Lennox Smith said Spiritual Baptists and Spiritual Shouter Baptists do not worship in the same way, and cannot be expected to share the same cathedral.

He was speaking at celebrations at the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Council of Elders Empowerment Hall in Maloney on Saturday.

Smith was responding to comments by the Prime Minister on March 23 at the PNM’s Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day Celebrations at Balisier House, Port of Spain, where Dr. Rowley said Cabinet is to consider another $10 million grant to Spiritual Baptists to build a cathedral in Balmain, Couva.

Rowley said then the reason they got only half of the money was because Spiritual Baptists were more divided than together so it seemed unlikely they could have an institutional structure. Smith said there was a distinction between the two groups, similar to that between the different Catholic, Hindu, and Protestant sects.

“There’s a lot of talk about Spiritual Baptists but I want to make the distinction between Spiritual Baptists and Spiritual Shouter Baptists.

I say this against the background that it is and was and continues to be Shouter Baptists that were banned, let’s not revise history.

It is the Shouter Baptists that were banned by legislative dictate and therefore the lifting of the ban and the pioneering of this particular holiday was a consequence of that recognition, nothing else.”

He said this distinction was made during a meeting a decade ago with then-prime minister Patrick Manning.

“We were at pains to tell Mr. Manning you cannot have one cathedral for all Baptists, you cannot, it is impossible.

We of the Shouter Baptists, the Council of Elders, we worship differently, we embrace women archbishops, we embrace the planting of the flags and the recognition of different deities out of our African heritage.

We also worship differently, it’s like water on a duck’s back, or pouring oil on water and trying to mix them.

We spoke to Mr. Manning over a decade ago, and yet today they’re still talking about a cathedral for the Baptist community, it cannot be.”

Smith also noted that Shouter Baptist Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke, who was the force behind the public holiday (Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day under the Panday administration) was not present at the PNM event.