THE beginning of a movement that would change the Christian landscape in this country began in the month of August 1968, led by a Canadian missionary known as Jack Keys.
The inaugural services were held on the Marchand Grounds with a young flaming evangelist Reverend Holmes Williams from the People’s Cathedral in Barbados.
With over 300 people, making a commitment to Jesus Christ and later following in water baptism, this church movement began its meetings on Sundays at the pavilion of the Victoria Park which is now known as the Mindoo Phillip Park, and then the Leslie Land Carmichael School in Leslie Land.
On the 29th of October 1968 the movement, under the leadership of Reverend Jack Keys purchased a property from the Sans Souci Development to erect a building.
In the year of March 1969, a sanctuary was dedicated under the name Bethel Tabernacle, with much assistance from the local members and Bethel Pentecostal in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
From these humble beginnings Bethel Tabernacle, emerged as a mega church with over 1,000 members and became the mother church of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) Saint Lucia District, establishing many of the now 23 churches within this fellowship.
Bethel Tabernacle, as a church has given birth to many trained ministers who went on to pastor churches locally and internationally.
One of the first trained ministers, John Delice came out of Bethel Tabernacle and later gave pastoral leadership to the Babonneau Pentecostal Church which is now named Deliverance Pentecostal. Reverend Delice became the first locally ordained minister and status officer of the District.
Ministers such as Reverend Henry James came out of Bethel Tabernacle and pastored for 10 years.
Other pastors and ministers who came out of Bethel Tabernacle included Derick La Force, Clive Dujon, Gilbert Ferguson, Benedict Williams, Martin Blasse, Steven Matthew, Johnson Lafeuille, Euphrates Alexander, Delvin Forde, St. George James, Alice Charles, Marylin Weka-Fotso, Shamus James, Lindon Mitchel, Franklin Ramjeawan, William Paul, Remy Smith, Tony Delauney and Fabian Fontenelle.
Bethel Tabernacle over the past 50 years has been very involved in various projects such as outreach programmes which have touched every area in this nation through its Voice of Bethel radio broadcast. Its powerful evangelism drive with a multifaceted approach has expanded its reach in every sphere of society.
Bethel has been strong in its philanthropic programmes: feeding the poor, building houses for the homeless, sponsorship programmes for needy school children, medical outreach and many other community projects.
As a church, Bethel has maintained strong advocacy for family development and growth in the nation with a strong emphasis on youth empowerment.
For the next 50 years Bethel Tabernacle Empowerment Centre, in its trajectory is envisioning a greater influence on society with a tangible manifestation of the love of God through its in-reach and outreach programmes.
Bethel’s vision is ‘to be a beacon that shines the light of love, hope and empowerment to the nations through the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ Its mission is ‘demonstrating the love of God through the gifts of the Spirit to inspire and empower individuals and embrace technology toreach nations.’
In fulfilling its mandate Bethel is seeking to establish a multifaceted empowerment centre at L’anse Road. The physical structure will be a national landmark depicting the supernatural transforming power of the Almighty God which will represent a beacon of hope to those who seek help.
This facility will encompass a main auditorium, a retirement and rehabilitation centre for the aged, a youth facility, a leisure, health and fitness centre, guest accommodation, outpatient clinic etc.
Bethel Tabernacle has thanked pioneers, leaders, church members past and present and the many contributors who have made an indelible impact on its well-being and success.
Special activities for the Jubilee Celebration include a Health Fair and Business Expo on Saturday 16th March: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Dereck Walcott Square, an Anniversary Celebratory Service on Sunday 17th March: 8:00 a.m., Jubilee Freedom Services on Sunday 17th March: 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday 19th March to Thursday 21st March: 7:00 p.m., and an Anniversary Gala Dinner at Sandals Grande on Friday March 29.