As we celebrate this joyful event, we are all reminded of the important lessons we can all learn from this community: of the power of faith, the power of unity and the power of determination in overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
Our beloved Trinidad and Tobago is a nation built on the struggles, the strength of spirit and the will of its people.
The repeal of the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance in 1951 was a significant and defining moment not only for followers of this faith, but for our country. It signified the end to an unjust proclamation which deprived people of the ability to practice their religion freely, and finally, Spiritual Shouter Baptists were free to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands” (Psalm 100:1 of the King James Bible).
The contributions of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community to our country’s rich heritage and our diverse culture are deserving of celebration, and it was in recognition of their contributions that on 26 January 1996, Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation was declared a public holiday of national significance by the then UNC Government led by Basdeo Panday.
The Government I led continued to honour the community and delivered on a promise to build the first Spiritual Baptist school – the St Barbara’s Spiritual Baptist Primary school and an Early Childhood Care and Education Centre. We also gave a commitment to build a secondary school, and it is my intention to honour this promise when the UNC returns to Government.
The indomitable spirit of the Baptist community is noteworthy; their capacity to persist and prosper in times of significant adversity is an example for Trinidad and Tobago as a whole. Today, as we face trying times and challenges in our nation, we can look to Spiritual Shouter Baptists for inspiration, and as they did, seek to keep hope and faith alive. We also must thank this community for their tireless efforts in the process of nation-building and economic development.
As we face today’s challenges like job losses, escalating crime and increasing poverty we can draw on the experience and resilience of spiritual Baptists that we will overcome someday if we keep the faith, never give up and hold on to our principles and beliefs.
I call upon all citizens to stand together and work together, and, united in purpose, we can make a difference in our country. We must all keep in our hearts and minds at all times, our goal to build our nation into a stronger, more united one, one in which we can all be proud, and one in which our children have opportunities to flourish.
On behalf of the Opposition United National Congress and on my own behalf, I extend to all practitioners of the Baptist faith a blessed Liberation Day.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
30th March 2019