A Brief History Of The C.P.W.I.

cpwi crest

The Anglican Church arrived in the West Indies with the original English settlers in the early part of the 17th century, the clergy for the most part being state chaplains to the English officials and planters. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts (S.P.G.) sent out men to maintain a supply of clergy to the colonies, but some sons of settlers traveled back to England for ordination. The ecclesiastical appointment of the clergy lay in the hands of the colonial Governors and was linked with appointments to civil posts, an arrangement which served to supplement their slender stipends.

Outreach to the slave population, among whom missionary work was first undertaken by the United Brethren (Moravians) and Methodists, began towards the end of the 18th century. The Bishop of London (Dr. Beilby Porteus) under whose jurisdiction the Anglican work in foreign lands fell, was instrumental in forming “The Incorporated Society for the Conversion, Religious Instruction and Education of the Negroes”.

The Society (S.P.G.) sent out its first four Catechists and teachers at the end of the 18th century, including one to St. Kitts in 1796 and another to Antigua in 1799. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) concentrated on the provision of schools and the publication of Bibles, Prayer Books and religious literature.

It should be noted that by his Will made as far back as 1698 in Antigua, Christopher Codrington had left provision for the training of missionaries/teachers to lead the slave population to “milder manners, gentler ways” which led to the establishment of Codrington College, the Provincial Theological Seminary. In 1797 legislation was enacted in Barbados and Jamaica requiring the clergy to devote time on Sundays to-the instruction of the slaves.