Facets of Faith for Jan. 5, 2013

By LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISH

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Advocate staff photo by LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISHDead coral leaves a stark contrast to the tropical plants around it in Hell in George Town, Grand Cayman.
Advocate staff photo by LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISHDead coral leaves a stark contrast to the tropical plants around it in Hell in George Town, Grand Cayman.

Cruises can leave one traveling in interesting places, say Hell, for instance.

This popular spot in Grand Cayman is a formation of dead coral that many tourists visit to send postcards to friends.

It was one of several “religious” themed places I visited recently.

From a cruise ship, one can see a tower, the tallest building in Falmouth, Jamaica. It is St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

Landowners donated the property, and in 1791, officials decided a “national church” should be built on the site.

In 1796, the building was finished. Some modifications, including the bell tower, were made through the next years, but after 1866, very little was done to the church, leaving it in its historical state as a good example of the island’s period architecture.

Nearby is the William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church.

Baptists have used the site since 1831, but the building dates to the 1940s.

However, the name and church have extreme historical significance: Knibb fought for the abolition of slavery.

While pastor of the church in Falmouth, Knibb worked to protect the rights of slaves and taught them skills, such as house building. He helped provide property to former slaves.

In 1832, the church was destroyed by soldiers as punishment for aiding slaves during a large revolt.

That same year, Knibb was sent back to England to spread word about emancipation.

In 1834, slaves throughout the British Empire were freed, and by 1838, slaves in Jamaica had full emancipation.

Over the next few years, Knibb baptized 6,000 former slaves. In 1988, Knibb was awarded Jamaica’s highest civil honor, the first white man to receive the Order of Merit.

Back in Grand Cayman, very near the cruise ship port, people can visit the Elmslie Memorial United Church, noted for its interior ceiling, designed to look like an upside-down ship’s hull.

The wood in the ceiling was salvaged from a shipwreck near the island.

While the church marked its 90th anniversary in December, its story starts in 1830, when Presbyterians in Jamaica decided to send missionaries to Africa. The group sailed in 1845 but wrecked on a coral reef in the Caymans.

The Rev. Hope Waddell, a passenger on the ship, discovered there was no organized church on Grand Cayman and asked Jamaica for help, which came in 1846 in the form of the Rev. James Elmslie.

A church was eventually built on the site of an Anglican church destroyed by a hurricane in 1838.

Sources: http://www.elmsliechurch.org.ky/aboutus.php,

http://falmouth.lib.virginia.edu/

Send ideas and comments to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588 or by email to lenglish@theadvocate.com.