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Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke blesses the offerings during the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day at the Shouter Baptist Empowerment Hall in Maloney yesterday.

COVID-19 shut down their annual celebrations last year but yesterday, Shouter Baptists were able to dance, sing and give praise as they celebrated Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day.

However, the celebration was still limited, with Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke revealing she instructed Shouter Baptists to keep smaller gatherings at their area churches instead of joining in at the Shouter Baptist Empowerment Hall in Maloney.

“In this pandemic age, you have to learn to obey the law- you can’t say you are serving God and you are leading people and you are leading them down the wrong road. They say observe, don’t come with the full amount, we are going to be obedient because we won’t like a next time they don’t let us celebrate at all, so we are going to obey all the instructions,” Gray-Burke said.

She said sinks were installed, seats were placed the recommended distance apart and sanitising was mandatory for entry to the Hall. Worshippers also wore masks throughout the event.

She said churches in Point Fortin, Claxton Bay, Oropouche and Sangre Grande were having their own small celebrations and giving out hampers.

Addressing her flock at the start of the event, Gray-Burke gave praise for the group being allowed to celebrate this year. Public health guidelines last year left the worshippers unable to gather in groups of more than ten.

She also said she was grateful that no Shouter Baptist had died from COVID-19.

“We haven’t lost any of our people! Nobody died with the COVID, we are all still alive. It is a privilege to unite together as one, thank God you didn’t get COVID!” she told worshippers.

Gray-Burke lobbies for secondary school

She said on the 25th anniversary of the observance of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day holiday, she was satisfied with all her sect has achieved.

The holiday was first observed in 1995 and commemorates the repeal of the 1917 Shouter Prohibition Ordinance which banned Spiritual Baptists from practising their faith. The ban was lifted on March 30, 1951.

Gray-Burke said Spiritual Baptists have gotten their own Primary School, the St Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School and its own Spiritual Baptist Early Childhood Care and Education Centre.

She said many students from the primary school have been able to pass for prestige Secondary schools over the years.

Gray-Burke said she had noted the calls of the Christian Baptist sect for a cathedral.

But she said her one wish for the faith before her death is the establishment of a secondary school.

“We don’t want any cathedral, we want schools, I am going to go all out, asking for a Secondary School. We want to be able to go around like the Catholic Church and get our 10 or 15 per cent to put in our secondary schools.”

She said she hopes to be able to educate the Shouter Baptist congregation.

“We always have an urge to get into the education system because we said education takes you out of poverty and many of the Spiritual Shouters are on the poverty line.”

Gray-Burke said this does not mean that there is division between the sects of Baptists, but it highlights that they are two different entities.