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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Sept. 20, 2015: William Knibb Church, Falmouth, Jamaica



One of the most moving moments of our week in Jamaica came on a trip to Falmouth, formerly a busy port for sugar and slaves, a dark period in Jamaica's history. In Falmouth, though, we found a celebration of the end of slavery at this Baptist church. Like other Baptist churches on the island, it played an important role in fighting for abolition, and had a mixed congregation.




On the night of July 31, 1838, the eve of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire's colonies, Jamaican slaves gathered here to await the stroke of midnight, and then to bury a coffin containing chains, shackles, coffles and the other instruments of slavery. That event is commemorated in the plaque above.



The church is named for William Knibb (1803-1845), an English Baptist minister who came to Jamaica as a missionary and teacher, and played an important role in the movement for abolition. For more on his life, click HERE. Under his leadership, slave-owning members of the mixed congregation, freed their slaves, declaring that slavery was incompatible with their Christian faith. The plaque below, perhaps fanciful, attributes the death of one of his sons to joy over that event.


The church itself has had hard times. The present building was put up after a hurricane in 1944 destroyed the historic church, which had been a Greek revival building. Much of the material in this church came from the old church. The 1836 church that was destroyed replaced the original 1831 building.



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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