OLD HARBOUR BAY’S TABERNACLE HISTORY
The fishing village of Old Harbour Bay has truly been blessed as it was a fish vendor traveling from Kingston to Old Harbour Bay who passed on the news of this gospel to a brother. Her words to Br. Arthur Allwood were “If you want to hear singing …, then go to East Queen Street and Mark Lane.”
Without hesitating this brother journeyed to Kingston. There he met Bishop Howard L. Chase and witnessed the church in it’s glory. Never had he seen anything like this before. So home he came but he never kept the good news to himself… thus the song ‘Said I wasn’t going to tell nobody, but I couldn’t keep it to myself’. Somehow, being hungry to hear the true gospel, he told Br. Hezekiah McCartney, and again, both men headed for Kingston in search of this great calling.
As the news spread, the men took their families also to see this man of God. Shortly afterwards, they were baptised for they believed and accepted the gospel. So the journey began from one Sabbath to another by train from Old Habour to Kingston. When they were not able to make the journey, services would be kept at the home of Br. Allwood who was ordained as Deacon to head the flock in this part of the vineyard. Along with the Allwoods, were the McCartney, Clarkes, Ebanks being some of the foundation names of Old Harbour Bay. Despite the hardship and the journey to and from Kingston, these saints were zealous and determined to served the Lord.
Later on, the then Elder Rodolph Watt was sent down by Bishop Chase to be the pastor for this flock, as the number increased. Services were still kept at the Allwoods house and the saints also went to have open air meetings in the square of Old Harbour Bay and in the town of Old Harbour in order to draw more souls into the kingdom.
Through spiritual teaching, Bishop Chase order that the Church be located three miles from the sea, peradventure there was a disaster. A place was then sought: and the first official place of worship was located at 4 South street, Old Harbour, (now occupied by the Bank of Nova Scotia). They continued there until 1951, when Hurricane Charlie came and destroyed the building.
Truly, these saints were the descendants of the children of Israel, as that did not hinder them from serving God, for they were on the road again in search of a place of worship. The new place was on West Street, it was however , not very accommodative and they move to East Street.
Wise men it is said cometh from the East and so the saints decided to settled on East Street, where they purchased a piece of land at 55 East Street. The church was constructed and today 55 East Street still boast Tabernacle # 5 Old Harbour. The saints were now comfortable in their new place, but the devil could not sit back and watch this unity and effort. So he created havoc and a decision was made to return to Old Harbour Bay for worship until it was settled. It was at this time that the late Elder Eric Parchment was ordained as Elder and then appointed pastor of the Old Harbour Bay fellowship.
Not having a place of worship again, Elder Parchment opened his doors to the saints. God was definitely a part of this plan as the saints were now comfortable in the Parchments’ living room. The time came and Elder Parchment decided to make a garage to park his vehicles. But God had it be so, for this garage was never to be used for keeping cars but for the saints to worship in. So on completion, the saints migrated from the Parchments’ living room to their new edifice – the garage, with enough comfort and space to prance and march around. Who are we to question the work of God… for the scripture says he provides for the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, then what about the saints? As if Elder Parchment had to first complete this job to provide a place for the saints of Old Harbour Bay, he began to suffer in poor health and in 1980, he succumbed to his illness and fell asleep.
It is said, “Beside every successful man, there is a good woman.” Yet in this case, beside Elder Parchment was a faithful daughter, Sister Elder Mantica Parchment. She wept bitterly at his passing and she must have asked God “Why?” But like a good soldier, bold and brave, she took up the banner and continued to keep the light burning with a host of children and just a couple of adults, for she realized this to be the will of God. But as the numbers increased, help was needed and Elder Michael Johnson of Morant Bay was sent down to assist her. He spent approximately five (5) years with the saints in Old Harbour Bay before he migrated. Sister Elder Parchment picked up the full burden of pastoring a tabernacle again because she believed God’s work must go on.
One can remember the Old Harbour Bay’s bus rolling in for the Passover each year filled with children. There were days when all the saints could not make it for the seven days because the cost of sponsoring the bus was too steep for the Sister Elder. Nevertheless, she did her part in making sure that Tabernacle #5 was represented each day.
The Lord blessed Sister Elder with must needed help in the person of Elder George Whyte. He was later elevated to the office of an Evangelist and appointed pastor of the tabernacle.
Evangelist Whyte has worked very hard and still continues to work hard. God has blessed this tabernacle with a strong young man fulfilling his words, “Young men, I call upon you because you are strong.” Today Evangelist Whyte will undoubtedly say “I am from Old Harbour Bay’s Tabernacle. He has grown to love this little flock, despite the ups and downs. He is assured that the saints of this tabernacle will support him to the end; as he continues to stand up for the true doctrine of Christ as brought by God’s servant, Prophet William Saunders Crowdy.