AHEAD of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day, one of the leaders who called for it to become a public holiday, Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke, was honoured over the weekend.
It was on March 30, 1996, under former prime minister Basdeo Panday, that the day was designated a public holiday. Gray-Burke served as a senator during Panday’s tenure.
On Saturday, she was among 13 leaders of the Spiritual Baptist fait, recognised for their dedication to service, during the Sacrifice of Praise – The Rejoicing gospel concert and awards ceremony.
The concert, hosted by the Mantle of Christ International Ministries, was held at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, under the patronage of the mayor of San Fernando Junia Regrello.
It featured local gospel artistes such as Positive, Akini James, Michelle Sylvester, Sean Daniel, Jaron Nurse, Lois Lewis and Blessed Messenger. Ibis Dance Group Mantlelites Chorale as well as the North West Laventille Cultural Movement also provided entertainment.
Committee member Suzette J Baptiste said the organisers took the opportunity to recognise stalwarts and leaders who have been carrying the mantle of leadership before and over the past 27 years.
She explained that her organisation annually awarded and acknowledged individuals who use their gifts and talents to help others.
In the past, awards have been given to people in the arts, community and youth development, as well as for Christian leadership.
“Mantle of Christ international Ministries created Sacrifice of Praise to continue evangelism during the height of the covid19 pandemic. Sacrifice of Praise premiered as a virtual concert.’
This year, however, the group chose to have a live concert and include an awards ceremony, “in recognition of individuals who have displayed tremendous dedication to serving in various ways throughout their tenure as leaders within the Spiritual Baptist community.”
Eleven of those who received awards were honoured posthumously. The only other living recipient apart from Gray-Burke was Bishop Sieudath Mahase. His secretary Alina Renn accepted the award from deputy mayor of San Fernando Dr Ferri Hosein, on behalf of Mahase, who was out of the country at the time.
The other recipients included Archbishop Drucilla Paul, who made history by becoming the first female archbishop in 1991 and Archbishop Charles Toby, who broke the male-dominated mould by consecrating Paul.
Toby further opened the doors to other women to leadership in the faith, including Archbishops Monica Randoo, Sheila Jordan and Gray-Burke.
The otheres were: Shepherd Leonard Lares, who spread the faith beyond the borders of TT; Teacher Felix Leon; Rev Mother Cyrene Richardson, who devoted her life to the service of Solomon Mystery Church; Archbishop Harvel Gludd, the first to be appointed in that position to the West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese; Bishop Hervina Forbes, a founder of the Church of Spiritual Metaphysics; Archbishop Sheila Marjorie Jordan; Teacher Gladys Downing; Teacher Elmina Duncan; and Bishop Ralph Valley.