As Spiritual Baptists struggle to come to grips with yesterday’s passing of the founder of the Barbados church –– Archbishop Granville Williams –– the patriarch of the worldwide faith is advising followers not to give up.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY just hours before the death of the 90-year-old archbishop, King Shepherd Carlton Callender identified “iconic leadership” as the main challenge facing the local church.
He was firm in his belief that the work of the Spiritual Baptists must continue.
“Barbados’ problem is that if the icon does not give the word, there are lots of people who will not move. And those who want to move, when they move, they are seen as outcasts. There must be some [way] of marrying the iconic views and the liberated views,” he said.
“The problem with iconic leadership is when the icon passes, we can fall; and we don’t want to do that.”
The secretary general of the world body of Spiritual Baptists, who has been on dialysis for the past 16 years, noted that his illness forced him to face his mortality every day.
“I want the message to be understood that long before there was His Excellency Granville Williams, there were Baptists. There are Bajan baptists who came to Trinidad long before him, but they did not return.”
King Shepherd, who arrived in the island on Saturday was due to visit Archbishop Williams before departing the country this afternoon. It’s not clear if he was able to do so.
Instead, the joyous occasion of the secretary general’s visit turned to sorrow as friends and Spiritual Baptist followers learned of the archbishop’s passing on Sunday afternoon.
Some broke down in tears and had to be physically propped up by others as they found the news too hard to bear.
Singing and chanting were heard outside the Sons of God Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Cathedral, where the archbishop
Archdeacon Wilbert Walrond described the apostolic patriarch, who had been ailing for some time, as a great man who lived every moment for God.
“I don’t believe there’s anyone in the world that served God like he served him 100 and more per cent. We never thought that this day would come, but he taught us and he taught us well and we will move on,” he said.
A teary Deaconess Jackie Holder knew the deceased more than 30 years. She said aside from being a spiritual leader, the archbishop was also a friend.
“We all know who Dr Granville was and he will go on in eternity. He has done his work, the church will position itself to go forward with the work of God, and we will all miss him,” she said.
“I personally will miss him; but to God be the glory, great things He has done.”
Archbishop Williams brought the religion to Barbados in 1957 after living in Trinidad and Tobago for 16 years where he witnessed the local Spiritual Baptists.