The Barbados District has therefore embraced the elementary principle that Christ is the only Head of the church, and the Word of God the only rule of faith and conduct.
Over the past one hundred plus years, the Wesleyan Holiness Church has undergone many changes. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, holiness movements began to be formed in North America and to spread as evangelical and mission movements into the Caribbean region. Barbados was no exception. Such names as the International Holiness Union and Prayer League, the International Apostolic Holiness Church, and eventually mergers with similar groupings such as the Holiness Christian Church, the Pentecostal Rescue Mission, the Pilgrim Church, the Pentecostal Brethren in Christ, the Peoples Rescue Mission, the Immanuel Mission Church, and many others, helped to form what eventually became who we are.
There were Missions that sprang up locally through the evangelistic crusades and revival services of the various missionaries who came to Barbados at the beginning of the twentieth century. The first missionary sent to the West Indies was the Rev. C.O. Moulton and his family. He began his labours in St. Kitts in January, 1902. He labored in many West Indian islands including Barbados, before he died in British Guiana – now Guyana – in 1909.
The Moultons worked independently in Barbados from 1902 but were recommended by George Penny, the Superintendent of the Christian Mission Church, to succeed him as superintendent in 1904. Rev. Moulton’s followers held services in “Hopes Hall” in Cooks Alley. Rev. Moulton sometime after left Barbados for British Guiana where he eventually died in 1909. In the year of Moulton’s death, the Rev. James Taylor came to Barbados with an evangelistic party and conducted revival services on what was called the “Reef.” Large crowds attended the meetings, including the group of Christians that worshipped in “Hopes Hall.” This little band became associated with Rev. Taylor and accepted his leadership. These, along with converts from the crusade were then organized into a mission called “Faith and Love Mission.”
Rev. Taylor offered leadership only for a short time. He returned to America about late 1909 or early 1910. The members of the newly organized Faith and Love Mission were without a leader and a home. They held services at the Salvation Army Hall, and sometimes at the Y.W.C.A. Because there was no leader or fixed meeting place, some of the members drifted away. The faithful few persevered, and after meeting various places, they were able to rent a meeting place. Eventually there was the Outlet Mission in a rented property atop a rum shop in Swan and Lucas Street, the very top of Whitepark Road
It was at the Outlet Mission that the work was established against the odds, and against fierce opposition.
The church, whether termed as a mission or movement – incorporated the holiness theme and the members preached the three fold message of salvation from sin, sanctification of believers, and sobriety of life and conduct.
Eventually in 1912, after two years of struggle and without recognized leadership, the little mission welcomed back Rev. Taylor when he returned to the island. Rev. James Taylor along with some other Ministers – Reverends Finch, Rainberger and Decamp organised the members of the Outlet Mission under the Apostolic Holiness Church.
The Apostolic Holiness Church was part of the name by which the International body in America was known at the time. Rev. Taylor moved on, leaving the work under the supervision of Rev. Finch, who is credited with having first organized the church on Barbados in 1912. Rev. Finch did not remain with the church long, He returned to the United States that very year. Once again, this luckless band was left leaderless. In the meantime, the church survived.
Rev. Finch returned with his family to Barbados in 1913. This time his stay was much longer. He assumed leadership of the church once more, and remained its pastor until ill health caused his retirement in 1916. He was succeeded by Pastor James Tucker, a Guianese who had worked for two years in Trinidad before coming to Barbados. Later in 1916, Rev. George Bairnes, an American missionary who had also been working in Trinidad, came to the island. He assumed leadership of the church, and together with Tucker, developed the work at the Outlet Mission until they needed a more commodious meeting place.
A year later, in 1917, land was purchased on White Park Road and the first locally owned church was built. The construction was completed and the church was dedicated in the same year. It should be noted that for many years, Barbadian Pilgrims marked 1917 as the year of the church’s origin; and in 1967, Golden Anniversary celebrations were held. This dating, however, did not recognize the labour, sacrifice and hardships of those who kept the fledgling organization together during the difficult years up to 1912.
The church would have taken definite shape in 1912 when it was organized by Rev. Finch and named the Apostolic Holiness Church. Thus, 1912 is considered as the legitimate time for dating the beginning of what is now the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Barbados.
After purchasing some land, the Mission in 1917 shifted its location further north in Whitepark Road about one mile away and became the Whitepark Pilgrim Holiness Church, the first locally owned Church in the denomination. In 1957 another 40 metres away the present Whitepark Wesleyan Church was built by its members, and the Wesleyan Tabernacle was built on the old site.
From White Park, the church spread, with other branches being founded throughout the island, the next being the Carrington Wesleyan Church in Welches which was started in 1918. Wherever they went, the members preached the three-fold message of salvation from sin, sanctification of the believers, and sobriety of life and conduct. This three-fold message became the distinctive mark of the Pilgrim Holiness Church.
The Wesleyan Holiness church is therefore a product of mergers. The Faith and Love Mission was organized under the name the Apostolic Holiness Church in 1912. In 1922 its name was changed to the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the last merger took place in 1968 and involved the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America and the Pilgrim Holiness Church where it became The Wesleyan Holiness Church.
History recalls that over the years the church has had some excellent ministries which required the full involvement of its members, almost on a daily basis. These ministries included: Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday School, Branch Sunday Schools, Open-air meetings and, Evangelistic Services on Sunday nights. Testimony Services, Cottage (Home) Visitation Bands, Mid-week Class Meetings and Prayer Meetings, Junior Cottage Visitation Bands, Youth Service and in the late sixties and seventies Christian Youth Crusaders, a para – military organization.
Additionally there were Children’s Meetings, Temperance Clubs (Youth Temperance Club (YTC) and Loyal Temperance Legion (LTL) for the youth and children respectively, Youth Choirs, and early morning and all night prayer meetings and aPrison Ministry on Sundays.
In terms of worship, the congregation has moved from the use of the Joy and Gladness hymnal in the formative years, to the Pilgrim Praise, the Prayer and Praise, the Pilgrim Way, the Spiritual Life Hymnal, and the Faith and Life Hymnal. The use of modern technology such as multi-media projection now enables the use of songs, hymns and choruses from a variety of sources.