History of the Anglican Church in Trinidad and Tobago.

This information was taken from the Anglican Diocese Strategic Plan 2016-2020

The History of the Anglican Church in Trinidad and Tobago.

The first presence of the Anglican Church in Trinidad and Tobago occurred in Tobago in 1763 when the island, then a single colony, was confirmed as a British possession by the Treaty of Paris. Rev. Walter Carew, the first Chaplain on the island, was sent to offer pastoral care to the British community of troops and planters that was being established. Although British possession was interrupted by the French occupation in 1781 to 1793, the Anglican presence was firmly established on the island which remained predominantly Anglican by the time the British captured Trinidad from Spain in 1797. In Trinidad, where the British population was outnumbered by the French element of planters and their enslaved possessions, the British administration was forced to engage in a long struggle to anglicise the dominant Roman Catholic population with its French culture. The first Chaplain was sent to minister to the forces and the Anglican Church devoted itself to serving the newly arrived British planter and merchant community increasing its influence by legislation and educational policies across the 19th century. The Rev. J. H. Clapham became the first Rector on the Island. He was joined in 1823 by the Rev. George Cummins. The southern and rural territories of Trinidad were developed by missionaries. Church administration was strengthened in 1824 when both Tobago and Trinidad were included in the archdiocese of Barbados and the Windward Islands. The archdiocese of Barbados and the Windward Islands was further subdivided into three (3) dioceses. Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, Tobago and St. Lucia formed one diocese – the diocese of Barbados. In 1844, the first ordination in the Anglican Church in the colony of Trinidad took place when Bishop Parry ordained five deacons. An Ordinance was passed regulating the duties of Clergy and sixteen (16) parishes, seven (7) formed Rectories and nine (9) formed Curacies. The State paid the salaries of the Clergy and monies to assist with church buildings came from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (S.P.G.) and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) 11 These developments enabled the church to have a stronger presence and place greater focus by 1848 on outreach activities in the rural communities of both islands. Religious instruction was provided to East Indians and other immigrants and the Daily Meal Society and Friendly Societies were established at Holy Trinity Church. In 1857, the St. Mary’s Children’s Orphanage at Tacarigua was established along with the St. Mary’s Parish Church and adjoining lands through a generous gift from the estate of the wealthiest man on the island at the time, William Hardin Burnley, at the hand of his general manager, William Eccles. The church, with the help of the Government established a reformatory for boys in Diego Martin which became known the St. Michael’s School for Boys. In 1870, the church decided that Trinidad should be released from the Diocese of Barbados and so a council was formed in 1871. In 1872 Queen Victoria authorised the formation of a new Diocese and Richard Rawle was elected and consecrated Bishop. In 1888, James Thomas Hayes succeeded as Bishop. He facilitated Tobago, which was formerly part of the Diocese of the Barbados and the Windward Islands, within the Diocese of Trinidad in 1891. Tobago became a Ward of Trinidad and Tobago in 1889 around the same time Trinidad looked over congregations in Venezuela in an arrangement which continued until 1975. The close relationship between Church and State was a feature of British Colonial times. The Anglican presence in Trinidad and Tobago is mixed within the very fibre of civic life since the Church was considered more than a faith institution but also a repository of the English culture and method of governance. The Anglican Church in Trinidad and Tobago has always enjoyed a cross pollination of the State’s involvement along with all the benefits. Important unions occurred that helped in shaping the colourful Anglican 12 Church. One example of this is the marriage between Governor Harris and Archdeacon Cummins’ daughter Lady Sarah. Cummins as a priest owned large parcels of land within the old Tranquillity Estate. Another example is that of William Gordon, a Scottish planter and partner of Gordon and Grant and Company. He married Gertrude Maude the daughter of John Scott Bushe, Colonial Secretary for 29 years, who sometimes acted as Governor. Gordon and his wife were generous benefactors of All Saints Church in Port-of-Spain which still benefits from the trust set up to maintain the Home for Senior citizens though it was originally meant for the widows of priests. The era of Bishop Arthur Henry Anstey brought fresh zeal during the period 1918 to 1945. He, the first bishop to be consecrated locally, was also Archbishop of the West Indies. He constructed churches, schools, colleges, and established hostels for the young. He worked closely with the underprivileged while he also functioned as a parish priest and financed many projects from his own funds. In 1943, the Church pioneered technical training with the San Fernando Junior Technical School. In 1948, the Church established the Association to aid the deaf and in 1953, the Church in observance of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth joined the effort of providing education for the physically challenged. In the 1970’s, the Church welcomed its first native Bishop, Clive O. Abdullah, who took the Diocese into the modern era. He influenced the use of steel drums in the liturgy. In 1972, he commemorated the diocesan centenary by setting up a pension scheme for the clergy and an Anglican Centre. In 1972, he called for the setting up of a Youth Council with a representative to the Synod. In 1974, the Order of Franciscans was established and began work in the diocese. The Anglican Church pioneered legal aid programmes before the state created its option. There was also a fresh look at lay ministry and a special training course 13 for lay persons was developed, eventually being absorbed into the Diploma course in theological studies. Seventy persons were enrolled in the Diploma programme for lay persons and the first graduation was in 1982. Parish stewardship programmes were encouraged to boost membership along with programmes being offered in areas such as Christian Education for school teachers. There were also programmes for lay professionals (e.g., Nursing Personnel). The Christian education materials were produced to meet the needs of a changing society. The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago has played an important role in the development of the local community by empowering people and much of the church’s ministry has been for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago regardless of religious affiliation.