Adventist Bahamas - History



The History of the Adventist Church in The Bahamas

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The Seventh-day Adventist denomination is the fourth largest religious denomination of the Bahamas. The Adventist work started in 1893 when a missionary came to our shores and was officially organized in 1911. However, some form of organization started as early as 1908.

The field was first called The Bahamas Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (then Conference) because the field included all the islands of the Bahamas.

However, in 2003, after much growth, the field was divided in two, to include the North Bahamas Conference (Abaco, Grand Bahamas, Bimini and Berry Islands) and the South Bahamas Conference, to include New Providence and the remaining islands in the central and south Bahamas.

With a history of over 126 years the South Bahamas Conference consists of 49 churches scattered throughout the Central and Southern Bahamas, and has a membership over 16,000 who seek to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Within the organization, there are three conference schools. These are: Bahamas Academy Secondary, Bahamas Academy Elementary located in Nassau, and The Grand Bahama Academy which is situated on the island of Grand Bahama.

The Conference Administration, though young, consists of a competent and gifted team that is supported by a cadre of able departmental directors, pastors, conference workers and laymen.

History of Seventh-day Adventist Work in The Bahamas
Updated November 29, 2918, by Barrington Brennen

On November 27, 1893, two colporteur missionaries from New York, C. H. Richards and his wife, arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, after a three-and-a-half-day voyage and sowed the seeds of Adventism via the printed page. Thus from this humble beginning, the church in the Bahamas began. Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the fourth largest denomination in the country with over 20,000 members (North and South Conferences) and some 25 churches in New Providence, and 25 more on other islands in the conference. The North Bahamas Conference has about ten churches in Grand Bahama and Abaco..

Upon the arrival of C. H. Richards, the arrival of C. H. Richards, the population of the country was estimated at 50,000. He reported that one third of the population was Caucasian and the balance with shades from yellow to black. In fact, C. H. Richards implied that the Bahamas was a virgin territory and that "now one of whom so far as we know, fully understands and obeys the (Sabbath) truth for this time."

During the tenure of C. H. Richards, evidence of possible conversions has been limited to their report of a young police officers who was a lay preacher of the Methodist Church and had begun to show a keen interest in Adventism. He was planning to receive formal education in an effort to instruct others, but financially his family depended on him and so he could "not yet" see his way clear to leave his post on the police force. It was not documented whether the young officer eventually became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In March of 1895, Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Parmele, also literature evangelists, under the directive of the Foreign Mission Board, succeeded the Richards in the Bahamas. Mr. Parmele reported that the work of his predeccessors had sparked quite a bit of interest in the colony. In fact, about one week after his arrival a family of six, for the Richards toiled, started to keep the fourth commandment.

William Charles Antonio, a shoemaker and his wife, Mary Catherine Antonio, were the first Bahamians to accept the Seventh-day Adventist message.  Their children were Evangeline Louse Antonio Wood, Reginald Antonio, Helen Antonio, and William Whilshere.   There eldest child, Evangeline, became one of the first Bahamian Bible workers in The Bahamas.  She was instrumental in helping raise several Adventist Churches on a few islands like Eleuthera.   She married Elijah Wood and they had four children: Helen Wood, Floy Rollins, Madge Guillaume, and Masie Grant.  SEE HERITAGE ROOM

Pastors Silas N. McKinney and Neville E. Scavella, were the first Bahamians to train for the ministry. In 1956, upon completion of their theological studies they were employed by the Bahamas Mission.

Bahamian Presidents:

  1. Silas N. McKinney 1964 - 1976
  2. Leslie V. McMillan 1976 - 1980
  3. Hugh A. Roach 1980 - 1986
  4. Silas N. McKinney 1986 - 1990
  5. Jeremiah Duncombe 1990 - 1996
  6. Keith D. Albury 1996 - January 10, 2003
  7. Leonard Johnson - January 10, 2003 to 2010
  8. Pastor Paul A.Scavella - 2010 to November 2018
  9. Pastor Kenny Deveaux - November 6, 2018 to present

Centreville Seventh-day Adventist Church is the oldest Adventist congregation in The Bahamas having started officially in 1911 almost twenty years after the first literature evangelist came to The Bahamas in 1893. After that, vibrant lay workers open church Long Island, San Salvador, and Eleuthera. At one point there were more Adventists in North Eleuthera than on the island of New Providence.

In 1893 C. H. Richards, a literature evangelist (colporteur) and his wife arrived in Nassau, The Bahamas. The first to accept the Adventist Message was William Charles Antonio and his wife. Antonio at the time was the superintendent of a Baptist Church. After reading the books sold my C. H. Richards and studying the Bible he was convinced about the Adventist beliefs. A Sabbath School began in the Antonio home soon after they were baptized and continued for ten years. All of the Antonio family became Adventists. A few of the descendents are still members of the Centreville Church today. Some are members of other Adventist churches in The Bahamas or serving and missionaries on other islands.

In 1909, the first full-time missionary came to The Bahamas. He was W. A. Sweany. He conducted an evangelist series in the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall on Meeting Street and soon after the first baptism in 1911 he organized the first church. After he left Pastor J. H. Smith came to the Bahamas (1913).

The first church first worshipped on Meeting Street and moved to Shirley Street in 1914. It moved to its present site on Fifth Terrace Collins Ave in 1962.

Visitors from all denominations and social backgrounds are welcome to visit. We are a closely knit family bound together by Agape love. We hope to see this Saturday to partake in our 9:00 a.m. song service, our 10:00 a.m. Sabbath School and our 11:00 a.m. main service. If you are unable to make it you can still worship with us by clicking the link here to listen to our divine 11:00 am service live online.

Past Mission Presidents 
1908 to 1963:

  • W. A. Sweaney, 1908 to 1913
  • James H. Smith, 1913 to 1921
  • G. W. Kneeland, 1921 to 1924
  • M A. Altermna, 1924 to 1925
  • W. E. Bidwell, 1925 to 1928
  • R. J. Sype, 1928 to 1934
  • L. L. Hutchison, 1934 to 1936
  • No President, 1936 to 1937
  • L. L. Dun, 1937 to 1939
  • B. A. Meeker, 1939 to 1943
  • Harrold D. Colburn, 1944 to 1948
  • Roy E. Gibson, 1948 to 19??
  • Roy M. Mott, ??
  • Ed H. Snyder, 1963