Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are West Indies/Caribbean islands north of the mainland of Venezuela. Saint Vincent is the largest of the islands covers about 90 percent of the nation’s total land mass (340 sq km or 130 sq miles) and has about 95% of the total population of about 120,000. Saint Vincent is a volcanic island which has seen several major eruptions in the last 125 years. The Northern Grenadines consist of about 30 additional islands and islets. Saint Vincent was first visited by Europeans in 1498; Christopher Columbus found the island populated with Amerindian Caribs who were resistant to European influence, slowing settlement. The French were successful in settling in 1719 and set up plantations with African slave labor. Presently those of African ancestry make up the largest ethnic group on the islands (70%) while Mulattos comprise another 15-20 percent. The British and French argued for control during much of the eighteenth century until it finally became a British Colony in 1783. Autonomy was granted in 1969 while independence came in 1979. Still a part of the Commonwealth, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines looks to Queen Elizabeth II as Chief of State but with their own Governor and Prime Minister. A single legislative body, the House of Assembly, is responsible for government. Kingstown is the capital.
Agriculture is the foundation of the economy with bananas being the chief crop. Attempts to develop industry have met with little success. Tourism is a developing industry. Unemployment is high, as much as 40 percent.
Due to the long history of European influence Christianity is the dominant religion of the islands. Anglicans are in the majority with more than 40% of the population. The next largest denominations are Methodists (21%) and Roman Catholics (14%).
The genesis of the Stone-Campbell Movement in the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines dates to 1965 when W. Ralph Wharton, a native of Arkansas in the United States, arrived in Kingstown. There Wharton found two or three Christians but no assembly. Shortly he began a program of outreach and evangelism, particularly through Bible correspondence and personal visitation, that resulted in 200 baptisms over the course of the next three-and-a-half years. With these individuals he led in the establishment of four congregations, in Kingstown, South Rivers, Spring Village and Troumaca. In addition, five of the individuals Wharton was able to lead to the Lord succeed in establishing two other congregations during this time. Jimmy Bracken, began a church at Sandy Bay and the church at Brighton was begun by a team of four: Elliot Glasgow, Rudolph Jackson, Clayton Soleyn, and James Stephenson.
Following Wharton’s initial missionary service Bob Brown spent two years in St. Vincent, staying for a period of two years. Brown offered correspondence course to the residents of Union Island and through this tool a woman by the name of Wintrice Prescod was baptized. A Christian example to her family, Wintrice led three family members to Christ over the next three years and the family broke bread together as believers. In 1972 some young men from Saint Vincent began to assist the family church. The first resident preacher was Thomas Gellizeau. From 1975 to 1979 Bertram Pompey of Saint Vincent came to Union Island to work. Don Starks of the US led several campaigns in the islands, including a 1979 campaign on Union. This led to the conversion of Ruben Badenock who later became the minister of the Union church.
By 1990 there were 18 congregations of the Churches of Christ in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1 on Union Island, 1 on Bequia and 16 on Saint Vincent) with an estimated 450 members. American sponsoring churches have included: Holden Avenue in Newport, Arkansas, Argyle in Jacksonville, Florida, Bel-Aire in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Turnpike church, Grand Prairie, Texas, and the East Cobb congregation in Marietta, Georgia.
In 1980 Bob and Jackie Muter and Jeff and Janie Robertson, who had previously worked together in Jamaica and Saint Lucia, relocated to Kingstown, Saint Vincent where they endeavored to build up a school, known as Windward Islands School of Evangelism. The school has been able to serve the Caribbean island area with several programs, including one-year certificates, two-year associate degrees and three-year bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, the school helps the Christian community by offering training in computers and vocational courses, hosting annual preaching and teaching conferences, offering ministry experience in the local churches and internships in other countries. By May of 2005 the school had graduated 141 students who were then serving in a dozen countries in addition to Saint Vincent. See the website listed below for photographs and additional information about the Windward Islands School of Evangelism.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN (USA) 37212, Telephone: (615) 327-1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites/databases).
Windward Islands School of Evangelism
Box 824, Kingstown
St. Vincent, West Indies
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or WISEinUS@aol.com