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Oldest Church of God in the Caribbean

A century ago Missionary Carl M. Padgett established the Church of God on Green Turtle Cay, a small island in the Bahamas.  Now the oldest continuing Church of God outside the United States, the local church was set in order on July 24, 1913.

The first ministry of the Church of God outside the United States occurred when Bahamian Edmond S. Barr and his American-born wife, Rebecca, arrived in Nassau in November 1909.  Robert M. and Ida Evans, along with Carl Padgett, joined them the following January.  Robert Evans and Edmond Barr reportedly visited Green Turtle Cay in 1911 resulting in the conversion of Mira Roberts and the establishment of a mission there.  Later appointed as national overseer, Carl M. Padgett returned to the tiny island in 1913 and set the church in order on July 24 with eight members.

The congregation took the name “Miracle Church of God” as a testimony to the miraculous way in which its current facility was purchased, furnished, and expanded.  The Bahamian government had placed a freeze on borrowing money, but after much prayer the freeze was unexpectedly lifted when property became available to the church in 1991.  Members and friends responded generously to the ministry vision which allowed the church to be furnished and the mortgage paid in less than five years.  Bishop Johnny T. Lowe has served as pastor for the past 19 years during which the congregation has grown significantly.

© 2020 Pentecostal Research Center

First African Pastor

In May of 1909, Edmond and Rebecca Barr attended the Pleasant Grove Camp Meeting near Durant, Florida. Many of the holiness people who regularly attended Pleasant Grove meetings had come into the Pentecostal Movement during the previous two years. There they heard Church of God General Overseer A. J. Tomlinson preach on the importance of restoring God’s church. Tomlinson credentialed both Edmond and Rebecca as evangelists on May 31, making them the first people of African descent in the Church of God.

Tomlinson retuned to Pleasant Grove in October, and the Barrs experienced a call to preach the gospel in Edmond’s homeland. The couple sailed for Nassau where they landed in November 1909, becoming not only the first Church of God ministers, but the first people of color to take the gospel outside the U.S. for the Church of God, just two years after the fledgling movement adopted the name Church of God.

© Dr. David Roebuck, director of the Pentecostal Research Center, Cleveland, Tennessee

TOP PHOTO INFO:
Front row (L-R): Hartley Roberts; his wife, Mira Roberts (holding their daughter Mishah), Carl M. Padgett (overseer of the Bahamas Islands), Rebecca Barr (wife of Edmund S. Barr), Millie Lowe (wife of John A. Lowe, holding baby)
Back Row (L-R): Edmund S. Barr (man with hat), William R. Franks, John A. Lowe (founding pastor of the Green Turtle Cay Church of God), Howard Lowe, Osgood Lowe.

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