Our History

The Emmanuel Baptist Church (formerly the Port Maria Baptist Church), located in the town of Port Maria, St. Mary (Jamaica) was organized in 1828 by the Rev. Joseph Burton. When Burton arrived from East Queen Street he discovered a small Baptist cause in Port Maria. The cause was constituted on 18th May 1828. This makes Emmanuel the second oldest Baptist Church in St. Mary and one of the oldest of all denominations. The Emmanuel Baptist Church, is an affiliate of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU).

In 1907, the building was badly damaged by earthquake.  Renovations and re-roofing were done by the late Rev. E. B. James, but disaster struck again when the 1944 hurricane removed the entire roof.  This resulted in temporary arrangements being made for the membership to worship in the Methodist Church building until the necessary repairs were done.  The re-building task was great and seemed insurmountable, but the membership, under the leadership of Rev. O. T. Johnson and Deacons Lindsay and H. A. Bennett, saw it through to completion.

In more recent history, Rev. Dr. Dudley Stokes served as pastor from 1967 to 1974.  it was he who laid the foundation for the ground floor of the Education Centre (which presently houses the Emmanuel Basic School).  Rev. Dr. Heckford Sharpe who succeeded him, continued the building process and added the first floor of the Centre.  Over the years, this Centre has been used to facilitate youth and adult education in various ways including evening classes, Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning [(JFLL), formerly JAMAL], and a printery.

Rev. Harry Jarrett succeded Rev. Sharpe and he sought to improve the general atmosphere for worship and so saw to the tiling of the chapel.  Rev. Joseph Anderson succeeded Rev. Jarrett in January of 1984.  Two years later, during his tenure, there was an extensive renovation of the chapel, including replacing the entire roof and ceiling.  This resulted in the congregation worshipping in the upstairs of the Education Centre.  It was during his tenure also that the Children’s Church and Cell Group Ministries were established.

The Rev. Glenroy Lalor, started serving on August 1, 1992.  Since serving at this church, several building projects have been undertaken.  The building projects include re-roofing of the chapel and the renovation of the Education Centre.  After renovation, the Centre was re-name the “Stokes/Sharpe Education Centre” in honour of the Reverends Stokes and Sharpe who were both instrumental in its construction.  Additional building expansion included construction of a tuck-shop area, and a gazebo area on the second floor of the Education Centre.

Over the years, the Emmanuel Baptist Church has produced several persons who have accepted the call to full-time ministry.  Among them are the Rev. Jeffery McKenzie (past president of the Jamaica Baptist Union and Pastor of the Phillipo Baptist Church), Rev. Luke Shaw (Missioner to Panama, and now current pastor of the Linstead Circuit of Baptist Churches), Rev. Vivian Hinds (Florida), Rev. Baris Malcolm (USA), Pastor Alton Francis (New Testament Church of God, St. Catherine), and Pastor Kenneth Morrison (New Testament Church of God, Portmore).  The church has also produced evangelists in the persons of Brother Adolphus A. Dixon (deceased) and Deacon Norman Brown.  Additionally, the Emmanuel Baptist Church has been instrumental in ‘planting’ the Zion Hill/Friendship Circuit of Baptist Churches (1998) and the Galina Church in the parish (2002).

The Emmanuel connection in “Overseas Mission” cannot be forgotten as two of our past ministers, Rev. Dr. Dudley Stokes and Rev. Dr. Heckford Sharpe, served as missionaries to the Turks and Caicos Islands and Grenada, respectively.  Also worthy of mention is the Rev. Edward James, who died while serving as a missionary in Nicaragua in 1921.  Rev. James served as pastor of Emmanuel from 1906 to 1917.  The link between Emmanuel, Grenada and Emmanuel in Port Maria is still being maintained.  In September 1998, a delegation of over 20 persons from here, headed by Rev. Sharpe and Rev. Lalor, visited the churches in Grenada.  In 2003, Emmanuel (Port Maria), hosted 24 members from Emmanuel (Grenada).

For more than 185 years, the Emmanuel Baptist Church has weathered many storms.  There will be challenges as we forge forward, but we have the assurance of God’s guiding and protective hands into the future.

Pastors Who Have Served

  1. Rev. Joseph Burton (1828- ?)
  2. Rev. Edward Baylis
  3. Rev. David Day (1839-1863)
  4. Rev. W.D. Henderson
  5. Rev. Charles Sibley
  6. Rev. Edward B. James (1906-1917)
  7. Rev. Solomon Williamson
  8. Rev. James Reid
  9. Rev. Arnold Knott
  10. Rev. Solomon McFarlane
  11. Rev. W. J. Thompson
  12. Rev. Chester Orr
  13. Rev. Clement Ferguson
  14. Rev. O.T. Johnson
  15. Rev. Spurgeon Smith (1953-1966)
  16. Rev. Dr. Dudley Stokes  (1967-1974)
  17. Rev. Dr. Heckford Sharpe  (1974-1977)
  18. Rev. Harry Jarrett   (1977-1983)
  19. Rev. Joseph Anderson  (1984-1989)
  20. Rev. Dr. Glenroy Lalor (1992-2009)