We are commissioned in Matthew 28:19 “to go and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Red Bay Church of God (Holiness) has a rich history of those that have pursued this great commission and has led us to this point today. Let us now reflect on this magnificent journey from our humble beginnings of being known as a ‘Bracker’ church to one that now has an International congregation.
In 1970’s, Rev. and Mrs. L. J. Watkins encouraged Edwin Tatum a ‘Bracker’ to plant a church in Grand Cayman. This was a great opportunity as the lagging economy caused the relocation of many Brackers to Grand Cayman which was experiencing a building boom and a thriving economy. This visit gave birth to the early church body of the Red Bay Church of God (Holiness). Meetings were held in the home of Mrs. Petrie Wethrell in George Town.
In 1972, Real Estate Developer Mr. Selkirk Watler donated property at Red Bay for the building of church.
In 1973, Wayne and Mary Lou Sams were appointed as pastors and Revival services were started in the George Town, Town Hall. The Sams’ were an excited young couple with a vision and very few resources, but they were committed to the call of God and took up the challenge. Their vibrant personalities reached out especially to the youth, who accepted the Lord and became an integral part of the Church, assuming many leadership positions under their guidance. Some of whom are still active members of the Church today.
In 1974, a building crew arrived from the US and together with the local work force, the church building was constructed. Eager for worship, services began in the auditorium before it was completed, with benches and an old piano donated by he West Bay Pilgrim Holiness Church. Transportation was provided by a small VW van and later a second hand school bus.
A small choir was started under the directorship of Sister Sams. The Church grew by leaps and bounds and we developed a strong interest in Missions and began financial contributions to various World Missions.
In 1976, the parsonage was started and Robert & Donna Tate filled in as pastors while the Sams were on furlough.
In 1977, while the Sams were at home in the US raising funds to purchase a new van, the local congregation finished and painted the parsonage.
In 1979, Russell and Idabelle Dothage were appointed as pastors after the Sams returned to the US to put their children in school.
In 1980, Sis. Dothage resurrected the choir, and the Church continued to grow. The Dothages served for three years and due to health problems were forced to return to the USA.
In 1982, Kenneth and Betty Peterson were appointed as pastors. Tithing to Missions began in earnest under their leadership. In fact for many years our annual VBS offering has been donated to the work in Haiti, which provided one meal a day for the school children of the Church there.
In 1983, the Red Bay Gospel Band was formed. In the same year a large group of church members attended Youth Camp inMissouri and Kansas.
In 1984 additional land was purchased for a new church building, as the church congregation had outgrown the smaller building. The Petersons were instrumental in landscaping the church grounds. Many babies were born into the church families during this period and the church continued to experience growth.
In 1986, the Petersons returned to the US and the Dothages served in interim until Robert and Cinda Thompson were appointed in September 1986.
In 1987, a building program was launched for the new church building. Ground breaking took place on Mother’s Day. In December the first open truck caroling began which has since become an annual event to the delight of residents throughout the Island.
In 1988, the foundation for the new building was laid and a TLC Team arrived to assist with the construction. However, this work was halted by hurricane Gilbert, as focus shifted to repairing the existing structure.
In 1989, the building construction re-commenced and continued for the next three years.
In 1993, the new Church was dedicated—debt-free—on Mother’s Day with a record attendance of 492.
In 1996, the old Church building was remodeled for use as the Church Hall and continues to serve well for many social functions and many other activities.
Red Bay Church of God (Holiness) continued to grow with strong interest in outreach missions and was instrumental in helping to support the work in the Ukraine, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti and Bolivia as well as tithing to the World Mission Board. For many years the Red Bay Church of God (Holiness) has been the #1 contributor to World Missions. Mission interest has continued with monthly updates of these fields of interest. The Pastoral Team grew and Brothers Davelee Tibbetts, Kim Evans and Helbert Rodriquez became licensed ministers of the Church of God (Holiness). Kim Evans was later appointed as Assistant Pastor.
In 2002, we were honored to host the first ever International Symposium of the Church of God (Holiness). We were finally able to put a face to manynames that had become familiar over the years, and the impact of ourcontributions to Overseas Missions was brought home to us in a very real way. Many friendships were formed as we united for the continual building of the Kingdom of God.
In 2003, the Red Bay Gospel Band produced its first CD. The band continues to play an active role in the music ministry of the Church.
In September 2004, the ‘infamous Hurricane Ivan’, visited the Cayman Islands as it brought an unforgettable experience of devastation, pain and suffering as many in our congregation encountered major damage to property. Our church was also damaged. However, it brought a new season of ‘Spiritual Growth’ as we relied on God’s mercy and the comfort and help of each other. Like the Psalmist, we can truly say. ‘O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.’
In 2006, Bob Thompson, our pastor was elected President of the Cayman Islands Ministers Association. The association continues to work closelywith the government in the Constitutional Review and the forming of a Bill ofRights. This body also gave much financial and spiritual assistance to thecommunity during the aftermath of hurricane Ivan.
In 2007, the Caribbean Bible Institute commenced classes in Red Bay under the instruction of Bro. Thompson. Classes started with twelve participants and steadily grew to its current enrollment of 20. It is anticipated that this educational opportunity will expand and develop in the years ahead.
In 2007 we joined the Caribbean Council of the Church of God Holiness,and Bro. Thompson served as chairman. Under the leadership of our pastoralteam the Church continued to grow and enhanced its outreach ministries. Over the years the people have had a mind to work, and we have worked hard and prayed hard and the Lord has crowned our efforts with success.
Today, in addition to our overseas missions, many local outreach programs exist: The Men’s Fellowship, Women of Hope, The Deaf Fellowship, Hospital visitation, Christmas caroling, Radio Ministry under the technical expertise of our own Lyngard Ebanks, Caribbean Haven, Eagle House and Prison Fellowship which has been expanded to include Central Lock-up Additionally, several of our people serve the community on various government committees and in NGO’s.
In November 2010 Red Bay was home for the fourth annual conference of the Caribbean Council of the Churches of God(Holiness). Affiliation with this council is most instrumental as together we expand and enhance the outreach opportunities spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and positively impacting lives and communities around our Caribbean regions.
In 2011 brought a new season of change which proved to be the most challenging year in our history. Our long serving pastors of 25 years, Robert and Cinda Thompson, felt the need to return home due to their family needs and obligations. They returned to the USA on July 21st, 2011. They served unselfishly, entwined in the lives of church members as they laughed, cried, disciplined, counseled and comforted through the changing stages of our lives. Their influence and imprint will long be remembered not only at Red Bay Church of God (Holiness), but by the Cayman Islands at large.
On August 2, 2011, a new era began, with the appointment of our first female pastor, Anna Gracia Smith Joseph. Pastor Joseph, a well-known Evangelist to our congregation responded to God’s call to shepherd the Red Bay Church of God (Holiness).
On Sunday September 4, 2011 her official installation service was held and attended by the Premier of the Cayman Islands, the Honourable McKeeva Bush and other official members of Government, Pastor Robert E. Wheeler, Director -Church of God Holiness World Missions, and Pastor Phillip Gumbs, President of the Caribbean Conference, and General Overseer of the Eastern Caribbean Churches of God (Holiness).
On Sunday April 1, 2018, David Gayle Woods, with his wife, Zenia Beatriz Woods, and two sons, Joseph and Noah, accepted God’s call to pastor the Red Bay Church of God (Holiness).