Smith Memorial Church celebrates 163 years tomorrow
November 18, 2006
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Tomorrow, Smith Memorial Congregational Church will be holding a service commencing at 9 am to commemorate its 163rd Anniversary.
Smith Memorial Church, situated at Brickdam, Georgetown, was erected in memory of the late Rev. John Smith who was sentenced to death for allegedly inciting insurrection by the slaves which took place in Demerara in 1823. The epicentre of the revolt was the Bethel Chapel on Plantation Le Ressouvenir, where Smith was based.
According to a press release, the evidence suggests that he did have some prior knowledge of the insurrection, information which he did not pass on to the authorities.
However, the release said, he certainly did not incite it since he attempted to dissuade certain members of his chapel from going ahead with any action.
Following his conviction by a local military court, he was granted a pardon by the King, but before the pardon arrived he died of tuberculosis in prison on February 6, 1824.
The revolt was put down with great savagery. Some of the participants were hanged in that part of Georgetown which was then known as Parade Ground.
Smith Memorial Church was opened on November 24, 1843, twenty years after Smith had been sentenced to death, as a tribute to his memory and work.
Over the years a long line of ministers and missionaries have served at the church. The first minister was Rev. E.A. Wallbridge of the London Missionary Society who wrote a book on the Rev. Smith. He served up to 1875.
Other ministers included the Revs. George Musgrave (1951-1954) and Conrad Stallan (1954-1962), Henri Sukuakweche of Angola (1970-1978), and Touta Gauga of Papua New Guinea (1993-1994).
A long line of distinguished Guyanese also ministered at Smith Memorial, and these included Rev. Pat Matthews (1964-1968), Rev. Adam T. Johnson (1969-1970), Rev. Oscar Wharton (1978-1991), and Rev. Claire Smith (1991-1993). Pastor Oslen Small, who was a former chairman of the Guyana Congregational Union, is now Pastor in Charge.