Bethabara Moravian Church, Jamaica

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Bethabara Moravian Church
Bethabara Moravian Church 1979.png
Bethabara Moravian Church, 1979.
Bethabara Moravian Church is located in Jamaica
Bethabara Moravian Church
Bethabara Moravian Church
17°57′50″N 77°30′24″W / 17.9638°N 77.5067°W / 17.9638; -77.5067Coordinates: 17°57′50″N 77°30′24″W / 17.9638°N 77.5067°W / 17.9638; -77.5067
LocationNewport, Manchester
Founded1827 (1827)
Functional statusActive
Minister(s)Barrington Daley

Bethabara Moravian Church is a congregation of the Jamaica Province of the Moravian Church. It opened for worship on 1841-07-28.[1]


Moravian work in the vicinity began in 1827 as an outstation of Fairfield and continued until 1837 when the adherents were sent to join New Broughton or Ebenezer (both Presbyterian). In 1839 the minister of Fairfield resumed the work (at the request of the adherents) with services held in a leaky building at Isles.[2] The ground breaking for the present church building was on 1840-01-16.[1]

An elementary school was established in 1846 (in the church building initially) and an infant school in 1863.[2]

Bethlehem Moravian College started here in 1861,[2] closing in 1887 (after twenty six years) preparatory to the move to Malvern.[3]

Patrick Town (1882) and Sharon (1950s) started as outstations of Bethabara.[2] Broadleaf is at present Bethabara's only outstation.[4]

The Newport Branch Library had its origin in the church building (1950s).[2]

The congregation hosted the provincial synods of 1983 and 1989.[2]



A cut stone and mortar structure with a small wooden belfry to the front. The exterior of the building was rendered and painted late in the 20th century.

A pipe organ was obtained from Germany in the early 1890s.[5]


Bethabara Moravian Manse, 1979.

The manse is rumoured to have been an overseers house on the Isle sugar estate prior to the construction of the church. Be that as it may, it is a substantial structure in traditional style with a stone built ground floor (used for storage) below the wooden living quarters on the first floor.

Rain water was channelled by gutters from the roof to a large storage tank to the north of the building from where it was daily pumped by hand into a header tank and gravity fed to taps.

To the rear (east) of the building was a row of outbuildings which formed one side of a small courtyard. These were removed during the 1980s.


Bethabara infant school, 1978.
Bethabara junior school, 1960s.

The original infant school was to the left at the rear of the church with the junior school to the church's front right. Since these photographs were taken the infant building has been abandoned[6] and the junior building replaced with a much larger structure.[7]

Moravian Deaconess House[edit]

Opened on 1971-07-28 by Bishop Hastings.[8]

Burial ground[edit]

Adjacent to the church is a large and well used God's Acre of about 5000m2.[9]


Several Bethabara men went on to serve as Ministers of the Moravian Church including S J Swaby, Trevor Dawkins, Livingstone and Paul Thompson (brothers) and Robert Cuthbert who entered the ministry while his father was serving Bethabara.[2]

S J Swaby, Robert Cuthbert, Livingstone Thompson and Paul Thompson have served the PEC as Secretary, President and Secretary.[2]

Vivian Moses was consecrated as a bishop while serving in North America.[2]


1842 James Spence
1853 John Seiler
1863 Emanuel Weiss
1868 Joseph T Zom
1876 Fred Moderan
1883 Frank P Wilde
1932 Cyril H Edwards
1945 Charles F Smith
1946 Roderic J Flemming (assistant Vincent I Peart)
1950 Lloyd G McNamee
1951 Horace T Cuthbert
1962 Fred Linyard
1965 Robert G Foster
1978 Basil L MacLeavy
1983 Rupert G Clarke
1992 Nigel St. A Powell
1995 Guy Roberts
1996 Phyllis Smith-Seymour
2006 Jermaine Gibson
2011 Kevin Marshall
2014 Barrington Daley


F P Wilde's 48 years at Bethabara (and one year elsewhere) remains the longest service in Jamaica by a Moravian minister.[10]


  1. ^ a b Buchner 1854, p. 132.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Spence 2000.
  3. ^ Hastings & MacLeavy 1979, p. 95.
  4. ^ Moravian Church in Jamaica website.
  5. ^ Hastings & MacLeavy 1979, p. 84.
  6. ^ "Aerial view of Infant school". Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Aerial view of Junior school". Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  8. ^ Hastings & MacLeavy 1979, p. 205.
  9. ^ "Aerial view of burial ground". Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  10. ^ Hastings & MacLeavy 1979, p. 169.


External links[edit]