From that day in 1916 when Lydia Dowdye set foot in Barbados and began spreading the Pentecostal word, the spiritual flame has been burning.
Today, there are 26 Pentecostal assemblies with over 7,600 members and more than 11,000 worshippers in Barbados.
It was with this sense of achievement that members and other worshipers gathered at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Saturday night to celebrate this island’s100 years of membership of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI).
“As an organization who’s celebrating 100 years, we have got to be able to continue this flame and keep it burning,” said General Bishop of PAWI Dr Pat Glasgow, as he joined the Barbados District in celebration.
“If the flames were not kept burning in those early days, there would be nothing around . . . .Flames have to be fed to stay alive.”
He advised the scores present in the Hilton ballroom not to take their achievement for granted, adding that they must build on it.
“We need to be willing to make the sacrifice to wait on God in prayer and fasting to see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and our churches. If this organization is to stay alive, we need the Holy Ghost in our churches,” Glasgow said.
His address to the banquet capped an evening of glitz, glamour and glitter at the Barbados District of PAWI evening of celebration, where members invoked the name of their founder by inaugurating the annual Lydia Dowdye-Mings Servanthood Award as the most prestigious honour, and presented that accolade to three individuals and the Montserrat District.
Also at the ceremony, Presiding Bishop of PAWI Barbados District, Gerald Seale, received from Calvary Community Church, a 100-metre tall lamp made from 100 pieces of Barbadoswood. The centenary lamp is intended for the Barbados District of PAWI, as it keeps the flame spreading across the island.
In addition, awards for long and dedicated service were presented to many members, some of whom had given as many as 53 years.
Receiving on behalf of Montserrat, the country where Dowdye had departed to commence her path-breaking mission in Barbados, was Sir Howard Fergus, who has acted as that island’s Governor General and given record service as the Speaker of Parliament.
Montserrat was selected for this honour because of the significant role it played, “as the womb that birthed Pentecostalism in the region, and because it was Montserrat that gave Barbados two of its most prominent Pentecostal pioneers”.
First of those pioneers was Dowdye, who, after being married to Charles Mings, became fondly known as Mother Mings.
Following her was Reverend William Morgan who, along with his wife, arrived in Barbados from Montserrat in 1923. According to the testimony of the Barbados District: “The Morgans gave stability to the work during those formative years and were instrumental in founding several churches on the island.”
With the work of these pioneers as the fuel for the flame, the Barbados District said that along with its assemblies across the island, it has “added to its service to the nation of Barbados, a primary school, a Bible College to train its ministers, a radio station, and the Family Cooperative Credit Union”.
The three other awardees, Pastor Donald Stanton, Dr George Callender and Dr Pat Glasgow, were all bestowed with the honour because “the PAWI Barbados District believes that [they have] exemplified throughout [their lives] the personal characteristics of servanthood and excellence”.
Pastor Stanton’s services started back in 1961. Among many outstanding achievements, he started the Flames outreach group, which travelled to street corners all over the island one night each week for almost 50 years and preached the gospel in sometimes hostile settings.
Dr Callender is chairman of the Barbados Vocational Institute and chairman of the board of Wycliffe Caribbean, an organization devoted to providing the scriptures in every language. He is also a former chairman of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, where he spent 11 years starting in 1992. His work in ministry began in 1965 when, with a few others, he founded Calvary Temple at Crane, St Philip.
Dr Glasgow has held the position of General Bishop of PAWI since 2006. Described as “a man who has been called by the Lord Jesus Christ to serve and lead his generation”, the now middle-aged bishop rose to his first leadership position as a teacher in church at age 14. That started a life of exemplary service to the church that has seen him “moved from a young boy obeying the voice of God and surrendering his life to him… to become an exemplary servant leader, mentor and visionary of PAWI”.