ECBM Historical Highlights
In 1960, Pastor Eugene Thurman, from the General Association of Regular Baptist in the United States, founded the First Baptist Church of Antigua and Barbuda, on Thames Street in St. John's.
On November 28th, 1965, Pastor Cleo Morse, an independently supported Southern Baptist, founded the Central Baptist Church from a Potters Village Baptist Sunday School and the remnants of the disbanded First Baptist Church.
In July of 1967, the Central Baptist Church Building at Radio Range was dedicated.
On April 10th, 1968, the property was turned over to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention due to financial problems. There was a formal agreement to return the title deeds within 10 years after the Church's maturity.
In July of 1968, Southern Baptist missionaries began providing pastoral leadership to the Church. These included Pastor Vernon Sydow, Pastor Brown Hughes and on June 3, 1970, Pastor Shelby Smith.
Under the leadership of Pastor Shelby Smith the Central Baptist Church founded the Villa Baptist Church on November 23, 1975. The church also founded the Cedar Grove Baptist Church on the 6th of January 1980. The three churches were organized into the Antigua Baptist Association, which was later admitted to the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance.
On January 8th, 1978, Pastor Lambert Mills of St. Kitts was called as Pastor of Central Baptist Church. Recaldo Phillip assisted him.
On December 31st, 1985, the church installed its first Antiguan Pastor, Hensworth W.C. Jonas, who has lead the ministry to the present.
On April 9th, 1986, the church completed a revision of its administrative documents and unanimously passed a new constitution and bylaws. The property of the church was formally returned to the Board of Trustees of the Central Baptist Church from the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.
In 1988, the Central Baptist Church began a radio ministry called "Living His Life". This was later expanded to a television ministry with the programme "Sovereign Grace Hour". These media ministries are seen and heard in many eastern Caribbean territories.
On July 16th, 1989 a chapel building was dedicated in the Tyrells community for the purpose of developing a new church.
In September 1990 the Central Theological Academy was started. This initiative was for the purpose of leadership training and development, aimed mainly at the laity. Continuing education courses were offered in Bible Survey, Church History, Systematic Theology, Apologetics, Marriage & Family, Reformed Soteriology, etc. The name of the programme was later changed to the Family Training Institute.
On October 10th, 1990, the church unanimously acted to amend its Constitution to include the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the 1858 Abstract of Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. These documents effectively returned the church to the theological roots of the Southern Baptist Convention as affirmed by its principal founders. The reformation of the church brought about significant changes which include a theological commitment to the Reformed Faith, the introduction of government by a plurality of elders, higher standards of stewardship and church membership, and a general strengthening of the churches educational programme and discipline.
On Monday, 31st December 1990, Central Baptist Church held its Watch night service during which Pastor Charles H. Grant, Pastor Ivor J. Walker and Pastor Willie Demps were ordained and installed as Associate Elders of Central Baptist Church to assist Pastor Jonas, the Presiding Elder, in the general oversight of the work.
On Sunday, 14th August 1991, the church voted unanimously to establish the East Caribbean Baptist Mission, an indigenous mission agency for the propagation of the gospel to our nation and the other island nations of the Eastern Caribbean. The mission's focus would be on church planting, educational ministries, media ministries, and conference ministries. Ms. Paula Europe was added to the administrative staff of the ECBM to assist in the supervising of the staff.
September 1991, the Baptist Child Development Centre was organized to provide early childhood care and education for children up to five years of age with Mrs. Carlene Douglas as a supervisor.
In September of 1992, the ECBM Scholarship Fund awarded its first full scholarship for a ministerial student to pursue theological study in Canada. Scholarships were later granted to students studying other subjects like Elementary Education and Business Administration.
On October 7th, 1992, the church voted unanimously to grant the Tyrells Baptist Chapel its own Constitution and Bylaws under the name "Tyrells Baptist Church". The new church was dedicated on November 29th, 1992 with a charter membership of 27 persons. The church also entered into a circuit arrangement with the Central Baptist Church for the purpose of sharing a common eldership and diaconate.
September 6, 1993, marked the expansion of the ECBM Educational Ministries. The Baptist Elementary School was established to educate children from ages 5 years to 12 years with Pastor Jonas as Principal and Ms. Nadine Smith as a supervisor.
In 1993, the ECBM joined with a few churches across our sub-region to establish the annual Baptist Heritage Pastors Conference with its first meeting in Martinique. The Rivière Salée Evangelical Baptist Church where Pastor Gabriel Ambroisine presides hosted the first conference. The conference has grown to include representation churches throughout the Caribbean.
On July 30th, 1995, the ECBM Ministries dedicated the Baptist Retreat Centre at Pares Village/Betty's Hope. This facility was dedicated to host a variety of conferences for the edification of believers throughout the region.
In January 1997 the Governor General of Antigua & Barbuda signed into law the East Caribbean Baptist Mission (Incorporation) Act of 1996. Later that year Mrs. Vandah Jonas as added to the administrative staff of the Baptist Elementary School as a supervisor.
In December 1997, both the Central and Tyrells Baptist Churches unanimously acted to bring the constitution of the churches into further consistency with the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. This confession of faith is the doctrinal guide used by the ECBM for interpreting the Holy Scriptures.
In September 1998, the name of our school was changed to Baptist Academy of Antigua in anticipation of further expansion to include a secondary division. Mrs. Karen Wehner was also added to the administrative staff as a supervisor.
In September 2000, ECBM Educational Ministries saw further expansion in the establishment of a secondary division. The Baptist Academy of Antigua operates with four divisions (Daycare, Preschool, Elementary, Secondary).
In September 2001, Mrs. Vandah Jonas as named Vice-Principal of the Baptist Academy of Antigua to achieve a greater efficiency in the operations of the school which had reached an enrollment of over 250 students.
On November 4, 2001, Pastor Orvin Paige was ordained to the pastoral ministry and installed as an Associate Elder of the Central and Tyrells Baptist churches.
On December 10th 2003 the Villa Baptist Church entered in a covenant agreement with the ECBM as a Partner Church. This associate membership status integrates the Villa Baptist Church in the ministry of the ECBM while maintaining separate legal incorporation.
On Easter Sunday, 2004, the ECBM, under the leadership of Dr. Hensworth W.C. Jonas, constituted the Covenant Baptist Church. This move was initially motivated by a desire to reconstitute a disbanded Baptist Church in the Cedar Grove community. Nine members formed the charter membership of the Church, transferring their membership from the Central and Tyrells Baptist Churches. Pastor Orvin Paige was appointed as Resident Elder of the new congregation. The church was briefly relocated to rented facilities in the Coolidge area.
On September 1, 2004 Deacons Stephen Butters and Ian Blair were appointed administrative supervisors in the Baptist Academy of Antigua with special responsibilities for public relations and physical education respectively.
On September 5, 2004, the ECBM dedicated a new Secondary school facility on property purchased immediately south of the Central Baptist Church. The facility houses classrooms, rest rooms, science laboratory, home economic center, and media ministry studio.
On April 15, 2007, a newly constructed church building was dedicated for the Covenant Baptist Church. By the providence of God, the ECBM was able to purchased property in the Longfords Estate/Mount Pleasant community on Friars Hill road for the construction of this worship permanent facility for the Covenant Baptist Church.
On August 31, 2008, the ECBM dedicated a new Elementary school facility on the property immediately to the west of the Central Baptist Church. The facility houses four new classrooms, each with it own rest room facilities. Renovations were also done to some of the old elementary classrooms. This move enabled the Elementary Division of the Baptist Academy to completely move out of the Central Baptist Church building, opening up more space for church auxiliaries."
In 2009, the facilities of the Tyrells Baptist Church were partially torn down of an extensive renovation project. A balcony for the worship sanctuary and second floor were created. New quarters for the Elders, a totally redesigned sanctuary with a baptistery, new classrooms, restrooms, sound booth and a fellowship hall were built.
Since 2010, , the ECBM committed itself to supporting the Baptist Haitian Mission (BHM) after the catastrophic earthquake. For years before this, money was occasionally sent in small amounts. Now, each year, missions-support money is sent to assist the work of the BHM, an amount saved from the weekly offerings as well as a Christmas gift emphasis. The ECBM also makes monthly as well as special contributions to the Berean Bible Church & Berean Christian Academy in Dominica for staff and other support.
On November 1st, 2011, , the Governor General of Antigua & Barbuda announced the appointment of Dr Hensworth Jonas as a Grand Cross in the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage (GCH), a national honour for his service to the nation in the field of education.
In August 2012, , the ECBM Circuit of Baptist Churches elected Pastor Joshua Michael Jonas, the son of the Presiding Elder, as Staff Associate Elder. He was ordained the following month and serves as a full time pastor in the ministry.