A PREVIOUS BEGINNING
About the month of February in the year nineteen hundred and sixty, a man came to the island of St. Vincent preaching the gospel of Christ and saying that men in order to be saved must repent and be baptized. He converted about fifteen or more people, but had to leave the island after a brief stay of a few weeks. This was the beginning of the churches of Christ on the island. There is no record known to the writer of there being a previous beginning. The individual who initiated this planting of the church was the evangelist, Winston J. Messiah.
Messiah arrived in St. Vincent early in 1960 and began his preaching in the city of Kingstown. At that time there were three places in the city where people met for large social functions. These places were the market square, the town hall (Peace Memorial Hall), and the Victoria Park. Messiah chose the Victoria Park as the place to commence his preaching. He preached for several nights at this park and was able to make a few converts. Among those converts were the brothers Alick and Harold Providence. Alick was the first of this group to be baptized.
Having completed this series of meetings, Messiah moved to the market square where he continued his preaching, though not with the same frequency as at Victoria Park. While Messiah preached at the market square, the small group of converts began to assemble each Sunday to worship together. A building was rented for this purpose in the area of town commonly called Bottom Town. The building was situated on Bay Street and was less than one hundred yards from the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
From all indications the church was gaining ground and would more than likely have made a great impression on the city, but due to some problem, the missionary had to return to the United States. He promised the young converts that he would soon return, but unfortunately he never returned to continue the great work which he began.
Messiah spent only a few weeks before he was forced to return to the States. Upon his departure, Harold Providence evidently became the leader of the infant congregation. Harold was then a young man, about twenty years old, having obtained the Cambridge certificate of education. He was at that time an employee of the government and worked in the Medical Department as a dispenser of medicine. His younger brother, Robert, was still attending the government high school, called Boys’ Grammar School. Some of the other converts were school boys and girls, but there were also a few older people, such as Charles and Dorcas Creese, Netta Tucker, and Ruby Isles.
The congregation continued to worship in Bottom Town for a few months after the missionary left, but in time, they became disbanded. They no longer worshipped as a congregation, and there is no evidence that any single family or individual continued to worship with breaking of bread on the Lord’s Day. A look into the circumstances surrounding the young converts reveals that there were several adverse forces at work against the infant congregation.
They did not possess strong leaders. Harold Providence tried to provide leadership for the group. Although Harold was secularly educated, he still lacked the knowledge of the Bible which was so vital for the instruction of himself and his brethren. The young men made an effort to evangelize. They preached on the street corners of Bottom Town, but were unsuccessful in gaining converts. This failure to win others dampened the zeal of the young Christians.
They encountered financial problems. The building in which they worshipped was quite large. However, while the missionary was with them, they were able to pay the amount of money due for rent each month. Upon his departure, however, they found great difficulty in paying for the building. They continued to assemble for a few months, but finally for the lack of money, they were forced to abandon the building. The loss of the building was not sufficient cause for the group to disband. Had they been strongly determined to continue, they could have rented a smaller building or even a room for a meeting place. Failing in this, they could have continued to meet at one of the member’s house. However, they were babes in Christ and not well taught. They struggled for a while but finally succumbed to the adverse forces. The church went into dormancy.