The Belair Presbyterian Church
The first structure that is documented was built in Moya in 1891 and served as a church and school. It was a wooden structure, very simple with large wooden shutters opening from the bottom of the window outwards. A picture of the church with the congregation standing in front was taken and printed in The Church of Scotland Magazine in July of 1900. The land for the church was donated by the Guyadeen Family and the construction and transport of building materials could not have happened without the commitment and labour of the congregation.
At some later stage a separate church was built 200 yards beyond. All that remains of that structure is a set of steps which in the past would have led up to a verandah and the main entrance of the church. Right beside the church was the graveyard. All of the names on the earlier stones have been erased through time and wear and tear of the climate. The earliest stone which could be read was from 1930.
That location was used for many years and then the La Mothe family who were long standing members of the church donated a piece of land in Conference and the present stone structure was built there in 1956. Fund raising for this church was heavily financed by the Belair Congregation and assisted by donors like Jessie de Gale
The church took a beating from Hurricane Ivan and extensive repairs were made. Donations that came to The Presbyterian church were used to accomplish this. At the present time there are approximately 40-60 members with the majority in the age group of 20-30 and the largest group under 25 which includes a number of children. For many years there have been families that have continued to worship at Belair as their ancestors did like the Harrow, Ring, Williams, Simon and La Mothe families. Rev. Jim Young and Mrs. Ann Young minister to this congregation.
The Samaritan Presbyterian Church
In 1889 The Samaritan Church of Scotland School was built and housed the church as well. The land for the church/school was donated by George De Gale(Jaydoosingh) an East Indian from Samaritan. A plaque hangs in the church with the names of all the families who contributed to the building on the initial church/school. Some of the founding members still continue to be involved in the church today. Families Bolah, Baktawa(John), Bedasee, Deallie, Dickson, Elahie, Ganness, Ghita, Hollasingh, Hassan-Ali, Jawahir(Adams), Japal, Jaldoo, Jaydoosingh(DeGale), Lalsee, Narayan, Paltoo, Ragobar(Samuel) Ramjohn, Ratoo
On Sept 22, 1955 Hurricane Janet hit Grenada and destroyed the church/school. However, it continued to function in a Seventh Day Adventist Church in the area.
Under the leadership of Rev Dr. J.C. MacDonald a new church was built in 1957 on lands that were donated by the Ferguson Estates. It was at this point in time the school and church were housed in separate buildings. The Samaritan Presbyterian School was built in Union financed by the Government. The Samaritan Presbyterian Church is in Samaritan-close by.
The Samaritan Presbyterian Church still continues to meet in this building. Hurricane Ivan did damage to it in 2004 but with the kind gifts from abroad repair work has brought it back to its former state. The congregation has about members with the majority in the 20-45 age group. It has an active youth group which meets on Wednesday afternoons.
History of the Presbyterian Churches and Schools
The very beginning of this ministry of the Kirk goes back to Rev. George Mitchell who was the Kirk's minister from 1855 - 1869.
After the abolishment of slavery in 1838 there was a great need for workers on the plantations of sugarcane, cocoa and nutmeg and so throughout the Eastern Caribbean especially Trinidad and Grenada a large number of workers from poor areas of Northern India seeking to better themselves became indentured to plantation owners for a period of five years. The first group of 287 labourers who sailed on the Maidstone landed in Grenada at Irvin's Bay on the 1st of May,1856.
From 287 to over 5000 the number grew. Rev Mitchell could see how this large number of East Indians were abandoned, poor and left to survive on the edges of society not able to speak English and illiterate as well.
The government of the day nor any other church showed any interest in their deplorable situation or for their children that they brought with them and those born in Grenada
Rev Mitchell could not turn his back on this situation and persuaded his church, members of the community and with assistance from The Canadian Mission in Trinidad and the Trinidad Mission of the Church of Scotland to reach out to the East Indian community.
He procured a Hindi Grammar Book and a Testament and started to learn the language so that he might preach the gospel to them.
In time 3 congregations were established with over 200 communicants and ministered to by 2 catechists Mr. Seunaryan and Mr. Lincoln Lala from the Trinidad Presbyterian Church in their own language. Missions were set up in Samaritan, Belair and Gouyave.
The children were taught to read in their own language but all other subjects were taught in English.
Rev Mitchell resigned in 1869 and for 15 years the Kirk had no resident minister.
No information could be found about what happened to these Missions of Samaritan, Belair and Gouyave during these years.
Rev James Muir assumed leadership of the Kirk after 15 years without a minister. He ambitiously, put the Kirk back in working order and once the Kirk was repaired concentrated on the Missions that Rev Mitchell had started.
Although he was only at the Kirk from 1884 to 1886 he diligently pursued the expansion of the Missions wherever they were needed and a school was opened at Belmont for 22 children in 1885.
Rev James Rae was appointed to lead the Kirk in 1886 and continued with the work to the East Indian community.
The St. Andrews’ Kirk
Bastion of Presbyterianism
The St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, affectionally known as the Scots Kirk, has been the symbol of Presbyterianism in Grenada since 1833. Built by Scotsmen who were resident in Grenada and wanted a church of their own, construction started in 1831 and was completed in 1833.
Sanctuary destroyed–Church continues
In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed the sanctuary except for the North wall to which the tower is attached, and the South wall, leaving what looked like book ends. The pews, granite baptismal fount, antique pipe organ, piano, hymn books, etc, were all crushed by the roof and 3-ft thick walls.
“We are … not crushed; … not driven to despair; struck down, but not destroyed …” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NRSV)
Attempts at Rebuilding
Since the hurricane, the church spent in excess of EC$400,000.00 to restore the inside of the Tower and has contracted a horologist to repair the clock. Our more than 100-year-old pipe organ damaged by the hurricane, was sent to Barbados for rebuilding. Although we made several attempts to initiate the process of rebuilding, we were stymied by the Division of Planning which insisted that unless work was done on the Western cliff face, we would not be able to rebuild there. About 2.5 years ago we were finally given permission to rebuild a modified structure, but it was at this time that work on the cliff face began, and we were requested not to do anything until it was completed. We are now ready.