Breath of life , Barbados

It all began with an act of faith.

The history of the Breath of Life SDA Church begins with an act of faith. The East Caribbean Conference, under the leadership of the then President, Pastor Everette Howell, invited Pastor Charles D Brooks to Barbados to preach in an evangelistic crusade. Pastor Brooks was the preacher of the Breath of Life gospel telecast which was being shown in Barbados at that time. The meetings began in 1989 with an opening service attended by the then Prime Minister of Barbados, now the Hon Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford. He declared the evangelistic series open, remarking that the Seventh Day Adventist Church was welcome to operate in Barbados and contrasting the Breath of Life programme with that of some American televangelists who had been exposed for their involvement in such sins as prostitution.

Once the series began, it was clear that in Pastor Brooks, the SDA church in Barbados was privileged to have one of the most distinguished Bible-preaching scholars ever to grace the pulpit in the island. An Afro-American, Brooks proved an instant hit with the attendees, who were exposed to solid sermons that highlighted the doctrines of the church and lifted up Jesus Christ. Brooks was ably assisted by the late Pastor Reginald Robinson who continued the crusade after Brooks returned to the USA. The meetings were held in several tents pitched by the National Stadium. During the course of the crusade, beginning with the first baptism in April of that year, some 500 souls were baptized, 300 of whom became the charter members of the Breath of Life company.

One of the elders of the Pinelands SDA Church, Brother Pedro Welch was invited by Pastor Howell to be the First Elder of the new church. Incidentally, some 9 years previously, Brother Welch had preached in his first lay crusade in which some 14 souls were baptized. He had come across a magazine in which the name Breath of Life was featured and he had entitled that crusade, “ The Breath of Life Crusade). At the new Breath of Life company, he was joined by Elder the late Dr. Cuthbert Arthur, and the erudite scholar, Harold Wharton. Later Brother Leonard Forde would join the eldership. A young man, Brother Ronald Taylor was Elder in training and the first pianist/organist of the church. The first pastor was Pastor Hilton Garnett. Some of the other officers of the church were Sister Sheila Browne ( Sabbath School Superintendent, , assisted by Sister Sheila Sealy), Brother Winston Cumberbatch ( AY Leader who was assisted by Brother Adrian Jones), Brother Denston Applewhaite ( Head Deacon), Sister Cynthia Reid (Head Deaconness and Community Services Leader), Sister Marion Parris (Treasurer). Bro Welch was the first Chairman of the Building Committee.

The Church first met on the site of the National Stadium, worshiping in one of the tents left on the site for that purpose. Enthusiasm was high, particularly since there was the hope that a spot of land in Butler’s avenue, Bush Hall, would be acquired. Indeed, a plan was drawn by one of the new members, an architect called Brother Jordan. However, the land was sold by the owners to another buyer. Eventually, the church re-located to the SDA Secondary School’s auditorium in Dalkeith where it stayed until it moved to its own building at Whitehall St. Michael. Along the way, the church also considered land in Long Gap). The land at Whitehall on which this church building now stands, was located by a search team headed by Pastor Alvin Lucas and including the late Dr. Arthur and Bro Denston Applewhaite. Bro Applewhaite was the first to contact the trustees of the land.

Pastor Hilton Garnett proved to be an excellent choice. He had the reputation of knowing each member by name. On some occasions, he would stand in the pulpit and call out the names of members who were absent from a service, indicating that he had missed them. Invariably, the word would get back to the missing member who, in most cases, would be sure to be at church on the following service. Brother Everad Brooks is one of those who recalls with fondness this interest in the members of the church. Under his leadership, the church soon trained the new members and at the end of the first year, members such as Brothers Keith Rayside, Mark Byer, and Michael Nurse were identified as members who could be included in the eldership.

The church remembers with fondness those who died in the faith, those who left to serve in other churches, and those who migrated overseas. They recall the artisans like Brother Nicholls and Brother Lowe who were instrumental in driving the construction of the church after Rayside had first prepared the foundation and Brother Brooks had first constructed the basement. Others such as Brother Courtenay Garnes continued the effort after the death of Bro Nicholls. There are several artisans and contractors, such as Brother Bourne, Brother Moise who were very active in the first construction. However, the church acknowledges the work of hundreds of church members who worked day and night to build the edifice. The History of the Church also recalls the contributions of Pastor and Sister Phillips, Pastor and Sister Lucas, Pastor and Sister Greaves, Pastor and Sister Dyall, Pastor and Sister Thorne, Pastor Castaigne, Pastor and Sister Sutton, Pastor and Sister Baptiste and Pastor Joseph.

Bro Professor Pedro Welch
"To God be the Glory"