The History of Denbigh Gospel Assembly
The group comprised Mr. Fitz Reeves, Mrs. Joyce Reeves, Mr. Aston Graham, Mrs. Elsie Graham, Mr. Samuel Anderson, Mrs. Beatrice Anderson, Mr. Arthur Holness, Mrs. Zelma Williams and Mrs. Martha Walker.
Their stay at Mr. Sappleton’s home was very short as they were given notice to vacate the premises. On the 31st December of the same year, they relocated to a bamboo pavilion constructed on land owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Fisher. Services were held on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
The members chose a leader, Pastor Fitz Reeves. Pastor Reeves had known Bro. G.O Thompson from the Salem Gospel Hall where they were both former members. Although they had gone their separate ways, they kept close contact. Bro. Thompson, who had become a member of the Associated Gospel Assemblies, introduced Pastor Reeves to Pastor Henry White, Leader of the Associated Gospel Assemblies in Kingston.
On January 29, 1966, Bro Thompson along with members from the Associated Gospel Assemblies convened a meeting at the church pavilion. It was there the recommendation was made for the group to affiliate with the Associated Gospel Assemblies. The first crusade meeting was held in February 1966. Seven (7) persons accepted the Lord as their personal Saviour. The first baptism was held at the church’s Headquarter, Rehoboth Gospel Assembly on Sunday July 24, 1966.
The following candidates were baptized:
- Bro & Sis. James and Catherine Reid
- Sis Louise Vaughn
- Sis Iris Martin
- E. Daley
- Sis Beverly Crooks
- Bro Noel Graham
The group continued to increase in number and gained stability. However, they were faced with what was considered one of their greatest dilemmas. They were again given notice to leave the land on which the Gospel Pavilion was erected. With all their efforts, they could not find a suitable spot to rent, lease or buy. Being in a state of utter confusion, they turned to God in prayer and supplication.
Pastor Reeves contacted one Mr. Gilfillian, the owner of approximately five acres of land, in an effort to persuade him to sell them even a ¼ acre. Mr. Gilfillian directed Pastor Reeves to the land on which the church building is now erected. The land had the sign ‘for sale” placed on it. One would surmise that the sign had been there for quite some time as it was completely concealed by overgrown shrubs. Indeed, to them, it was a type of the ram caught in the thicket for Abraham’s sacrifice.
God in His wisdom selected this spot of ground for a lighthouse, whereby many in the darkness of this world’s gloom may be rescued, may be saved.
Pastor Reeves made contact with the owners regarding purchasing the land. He also made contact with Pastor White and informed him about the decision to purchase the land. With assistance from the Associated Gospel Assemblies, they were able to acquire the land. In 1967, a temporary structure was erected and a second baptism was held in that same year.
This comprised approximately eighteen (18) children and two (2) teachers. Meetings continued in the temporary structure while construction of a permanent building was in progress.
The church received support from members of the Associated Gospel Assemblies who were actively involved in the construction of the building. In addition, Ministers from Grenada and Haiti assisted with the work. After months of hard and assiduous work, the new building was completed. In 1974, the official opening, for the new and permanent place of worship which was named Denbigh Gospel Assembly, was held.
The need for a separate school building as well as teachers to teach Sunday school classes became evident. As such, Pastor Reeves enrolled five members in the Child Evangelism Programme, to be trained as Sunday school teachers. A basic school was also constructed on the compound. The school was named Gospel Assembly Basic School to reflect its association with the church. Today, the school has grown significantly and has an enrolment of one hundred and fifty (150) students and eight (8) teachers.
Over the years, the church has gone through the leadership of three pastors. After Pastor Fitz Reeves, the founding pastor, went home to be with the Lord in 1988, the church was without a pastor for ten (10) years. During those years, the church was greatly assisted by Elder Sydney Turner from Lyndhurst Gospel Assembly. In 1998, Rev. Conrad Reid was appointed to lead the flock. However, in January 2008, Rev. Reid relocated to Portmore and Rev. Leslie Nembhard was assigned the pastoral role in August 2008, and has been with the church to its present time.
Over the years, the growth in number has increased. Today the membership stands at one hundred and seventy five (175). This growth in membership coupled with the development of the community, led to the need for more space – a much larger place of worship to facilitate the ease and comfort of both members and visitors. As such, construction of an extended edifice commenced in 2009. Today, amidst the economic crisis, through God’s help, and the unwavering support of members both locally and overseas, friends and well wishers, we were able to accomplish this mammoth task. Although not fully completed, the new building was commissioned into use on Sunday, December 7, 2014.
The year 2015 is a significant milestone in the history of our church as we celebrate fifty years of existence – fifty years of God’s faithfulness to us. These fifty (50) years have been an adventure of hills and valleys, but through it all we have learnt to trust in Jesus. We have learnt to take Him at His word, knowing that He gives grace for every trial and feeds us with the Living Bread.
The history of the early years of our church is a remarkable one. The gallant effort of the nine (9) forerunners, who had worked beyond their call of duty, paved the way for greater achievement for the Denbigh Gospel Assembly. Of the nine adults that started the work, seven have gone home to be with the Lord. The only surviving members of the group are Sis. Beatrice Anderson, now a member of another church body and Sis. Joyce Reeves who continues to give invaluable contribution to the growth and development of the church.
Today is a day of victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. He has caused us to triumph. We join with the song writer, Henry J. Zelley, in the words of the hymn:
Forward still ‘tis Jehovah’s will
Tho’ the billows dash and spray
With a conquering tread we will
He’ll roll the sea away.
To God be the glory!