The congregation of the West Bay Chapel Church of God is celebrating the church’s 75th anniversary.
At Teacher Al Al Park in Boatswain Bay, worshippers celebrated and paid tribute to Calvin Ebanks, Chrissie Banker, Enna Ebanks and Elsie Rivers, the ministry team instrumental in starting the first church in 1938.
“It was a good and memorable occasion and we thank our sister congregations for attending and participating, especially, in the mass choir,” said Stanwyck Myles, pastor of the church since 1991.
During the celebrations, visitors and church members enjoyed a “back to school” event at Goat Yard, West Bay with free food, games and entertainment. The congregation also participated in a weekend youth rally, a banquet at the Marriott Beach Resort on Saturday, 16 November, and meetings with Reverend Lensworth Anglin from Jamaica.
The first church was started with a plot of ground purchased at Goat Yard with the assistance from the Church of God George Town. A booth was constructed for the group to hold meetings inside, protected from the weather. The booth was destroyed in 1941 by heavy winds and the church moved to the second floor of the home of William and Chrissie Banker.
As the church grew, it moved to Dennis Parson’s store and then to a site near the West Bay Town Hall on land purchased from Prentice Powell.
The church was built and dedicated to the service of God in May 1948. A parsonage was later built on to the back of the church.
The congregation grew and prospered and, 22 years later, a new church was built and opened on the same property on June 7, 1970. A new mission home was also built and dedicated in Mount Pleasant. About 21 years later, the original church building, the mission home, was knocked down and the new hall called the Christian Life Center, where the present congregation meets, was constructed.
The church has seen many changes since it first started – from members worshipping in the open air to a soon-to-be-occupied worship center on School House Road.
Pastor Myles joined the church after leaving a church in Old Man Bay and ministering in various places. He said that, over the years, the West Bay service has changed from traditional worship to a more modern version. The singing of hymns has changed to a more contemporary Christian praise and worship accompanied with music instruments and drums.
The congregation is currently constructing a new worship center on the same site as the last building, which is projected to be completed by May 2014.
“By the grace of God, the bell tower has been completed along with the smaller roof and the foyer roof,” said Pastor Myles, explaining that $300,000 to $500,000 was still needed to complete the building. “Work has stopped momentarily while the church waits upon the Lord to release the funds so that the building can be completed,” he said.