MORANT BAY’S TABERNACLE HISTORY
It was in the year 1938 that Elder Elijah Erving came to the parish of St. Thomas in the district of Duhaney Pen. He was sent by Bishop Chase to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and to seek bread for his family at the same time.
He first preached in the town of Morant Bay at a spot where a Goard tree grew. The spot was called “Packee tree”. On one occasion while he was preaching, it was only one dog that sat there listening to the sermon; nevertheless, he kept on preaching.
Nicely dressed in his white suit with his machete tied up neatly, Elder Erving went to do manual labour on the Belvedere Farm. The late Evangelist-at-large Lewis, (then Mr. Lewis) along with his brother, the late Deacon Thomas Lewis and Mr. Cyril Parchment all worked on the same farm. They all noticed that at lunchtime, the preacher was not eating. In fact, he didn’t seem to have any lunch. It was Evangelist-at-large Lewis who suggested to the others that they offer the preacher some of their lunch and they agreed. Evangelist -at-large Lewis took the food to him. The preacher greatly appreciated this gesture, and used this opportunity to tell the then Mr. Lewis about the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5 and of the Church of God and Saints of Christ. Mr. Lewis shared what he heard with his brother and Mr. Parchment. Mr. Lewis and his brother soon became members of the church. It is not clear if Mr. Parchment became a member.
The history of the church in this part of the vineyard states that Evangelist Erving baptised twelve men before he baptised one woman. When this was reported to Bishop Chase, he said this was a very good sign.
The first service in a building was held in the district of Duhaney Pen in the home of Mr. Mathis Grant (that home is still there today). Services were later held in the home of Mrs. Rocker, then in a meeting house called “Ackee Tree” (even to this day).
The gospel was preached in the district of White Horses, but the saints received stones instead of offerings. However, people joined from the district but unfortunately did not remain in the church.
It was a Mrs. Melvina Lewis who made this statement “If that preacher would join with other preachers around here, it would be better for him instead of preaching by himself”. She at that time did not understand the purity of the gospel and that it could not be mixed. The Lord later opened her eyes, and she became a member of the church.
The Elder was elevated to the office of an Evangelist after much labour in the field in St. Thomas. After the fall of Elder Erving, Elder Leonard Watson was sent to pastor the tabernacle in Morant Bay.
Under Elder Watson’s leadership, many were blessed and baptised. The church moved to the district of Church Corner, next door to the present location. At the removal of Elder Watson from this field, at his own request, Called-Elder M.I. Lewis was asked to take up the mantle. He was ordained an Elder in 1951 by the then Evangelist W. C. Hamilton. The church visited a few more sites before finally settling at 44 Church Street, Church Corner, under the leadership of Evangelist M.I. Lews. This is the 10th site in which the church was housed.
The church grew in leaps and bounds under the leadership of Evangelist M.I. Lewis who was later elevated to an Evangelist-at-large and Chairman of the Board of Presbystery.