Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jamaica's Revivalism Religion (Information & Videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about Jamaica's Revivalism, a Christian religious denomination. Also included in this post are ten videos of Sacred Heart Spiritual Church Of Jesus Christ, a Revival church led by Bishop Ray Anthony Foster.

Additional information about Jamaica's Revivalism religion and videos of that religion can be found in a two part pancocojams series: [commentary] and [videos].

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, religious, cultural, and aesthetic reasons.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to Howard Beckford and Raphael Foster for publishing these videos on YouTube.

"Revivalism is an authentic Afro-Christian religious folk form that evolved during the eighteenth to nineteenth century...

Initially, it was the native Baptist Christians who joined forces with the Moravians, and other non-conformist churches to become the forerunners of the movement. However, Jamaica was said to have experienced a religious movement called the Great Revival in 1861, which saw the incorporation of much more African retention in the movement. Revivalism is divided into two groups, Zion and Pocomania. Pocomania is more African in form while Zion is more Christian oriented. These two groups have very clear differences, particularly with their functionaries and the role that they play...

The songs that are used in revival usually vary in tempo for example hymns and choruses. Revival also incorporates lively songs that are of a local derivation... Singing usually takes place to the beat of the drums. These drums are the Kettle-drums or bass drums which are beaten with two sticks. Tambourines might also be shaken in the rhythm along with other instruments...

Revival Churches can be found all over Jamaica, particularly in the deep rural areas and in the inner-city sections of the corporate area. On specific dates, towards the end of each quarter within the year, revivalists may be seen journeying to Watt Town, St. Ann. This is one of the most popular revival meeting places."...

“In 1860-61, a period of intense religious activity occurred in Jamaica. It was called the Great Revival. It started in the non-conformist churches, using vibrant evangelism to spread Christianity throughout the country.

In this time of religious fervour, African elements and rituals (which were still entrenched in the lives of the ex-slaves) intermingled with Christian beliefs, and the outcome was a genuinely Jamaican religion called Revival. It features spirit possession, and music as a central feature of the worship exprience. The two branches of Revival are known as Revival Zion and Pukumina (Pocomania).”...

Revivalism alive and well!
St Ann minister doing over 40 years in denomination
BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter , Sunday, February 09, 2014
"FLAGS are flown inside the building, water is placed in vessels on a table, olive oil is an active part of worship, so too are the drums.

But according to Bishop Clifford Cameron, the denomination that he leads practises Christianity and not obeah as many are led to believe.

"A revival church is a normal Christian denomination," he said.

A pastor for over 20 years, Bishop Cameron said that revivalism is an authentic form of worship, which is attracting more youth than ever before.

"It is very authentic worship; nothing counterfeit," he insisted.

He added that it is an African style of worship which includes a combination of European styles. However, he pointed out that it is a part of the rich Jamaican culture....

Due to its active community involvement, he [Bishop Clifford Cameron] believes that Bethel Lighthouse has outgrown the stigma which many revival churches have faced in the past.

Although members of his denomination may dress differently with head wrap and uniformed clothing, Cameron revealed that he does not segregate when it comes to other denominations.”...

Being involved [in the community], he maintained, has taught the community to be more appreciative and respectful of the church which many had once approached with caution...

People in the community have grown accustomed to some of the practices of the church, such as the sounding of the drums at six in the morning to welcome the new day and six in the evening to signal the closing of another day.

Some people have reportedly used the drums to keep track of time.

The unusual sounding of the drums outside these times is often an indication to the community that something is wrong.

"If a service is not happening at the church, the community, which has grown accustomed to the times the drum is sounded, will start asking questions," Cameron revealed.

He also disclosed that on days of service at the place of worship, people who may be visiting for the first time will not get lost, as the sound of the drums will lead them to the location.

Although more Jamaicans are accepting revivalism, Rev Cameron believes that a larger number of people from overseas are learning more about the style of worship than locals have been doing.

He emphasised that revivalism is not an attraction but a form of worship. However, foreigners are most times more anxious to know about it...

Accepting overseas visitors to the church is seeing developmental prospects for the community, he explained. Tour companies are now wanting to partner to develop the area."...

"[Sacred Heart Spiritual Church Of Jesus Christ] Founded on 1984
Short Description:
Come and see this dynamic ministry where Jesus Christ is the head of this house and where the spirit of Jesus Christ truly manifest. Come and get your Healing, Deliverance, breakthrough, The spirit of God and the Prophetic word."

Caption under a 2012 poster announcing an old time revival service:
"You are required to dress in your old time attire: Pleated Skirt, coloured pants, Many yard of turban, pencil, crep, subble jack, tape measures and many items we use to wear . We anticipate your corporation as we work together to make this function a success."
More information about Bishop Ray Foster is found in the summary statement for the video given below as Example #6.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.

Example #1: Bishop Ray Foster Watt Town 2013 # 3

Howard Beckford Published on Mar 8, 2013

Example #2: Bishop Ray Foster Watt Town 2013 # 4

Howard Beckford, Published on Mar 8, 2013

Example #3: Bishop Ray Foster Watt town 2013- Signing off

Howard Beckford, Published on Mar 8, 2013

Example #4: Bishop Ray Foster Thanksgiving Table 2013 #1

Howard Beckford, Published on Mar 23, 2013

Example #5: Bishop Ray Foster Thanksgiving Table 2013 # 2

Howard Beckford, Published on Mar 23, 2013

Example #6: Revival Time Pt 4

Raphael Foster, Published on Jun 23, 2013

Top church in Jamaica

Sacred Heart Spiritual Church Of Jesus Christ

This Church is Sav-la-mar's hottest revival church featured Pastor the Reverend Bishop Ray Foster a leading voice in the community of Savanna-la-mar , Sacred heart Spiritual church of Jesus Christ is in existence for over 20 years and they have not given up on the quality of worship throughout the years its so pleasing to see how the young Bishop leads his church into the future, hailing from a musical/actor background the pastor is a master at what he does, son of Lindel Foster who when he was young was a Actor in a few plays and a master guitar player and singer , The Bishop Ray Foster get most of his dads good looks and charm also his musical talent , Ray have been in church since he was a kid , you could say he grown up in the church, a disciple of the Sam Sterling era, he Sam Sterling is a grandmaster in this line of worship , even I who is not a Christian admires him, Ray the son of veteran and now leader in her own rights Hazel Green is the head corner stone of the Bishop Ray Foster up bringing and guidance throughout his now vibrant career as a minister so if you passing through sav any time just checkout the church located at 54 Cooke St. Sav-la-mar Westmoreland Jamaica W.I. for CD's and video clips of sermons check or call 514 726 3361 God Bless you all.

Example #7: Bishop Ray Foster old Time Revival 2014 #1

Howard Beckford, Published on Feb 1, 2014

Example #8: Bishop Ray Foster Watt Town 2014 #1

Howard Beckford, Published on Mar 8, 2014

Example #9: Bishop Ray Foster / youth convention 1st day 1.

Howard Beckford, Published on Aug 18, 2014

Example #10: Bishop Ray Foster / in worship healing night

Howard Beckford, Published on Aug 27, 2014

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  1. With regard to the quote above that "African elements and rituals (which were still entrenched in the lives of the ex-slaves) intermingled with Christian beliefs", according to, "Jamaican slaves tended to come from the Ashanti, Coromantee, Mandingo and Yoruba"
    "Ashanti" and "Coromantee" are Akan sub groups. The Akan people are from Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire [the Ivory Coast] in West Africa.

    The Mandingo (Mandinka, Malinke) are a Mande ethnic group. "The Mandinka live primarily in West Africa, particularly in the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Mauritania."

    The Yoruba are a ethnic group in Nigeria and Benin.

    These African ethnic groups can be studied for the possible source of Revivalism's "African elements and rituals" . For instance, from watching these videos, Revivalism's call & response songs and movement such as repeated stamping to induce spirit possession and Revivalism's high value on water comes from all of the African ethnic groups listed above (and not just the Yoruba religion).

  2. Having just published several pancocojams posts on the women's head wraps (tied head scarfs), I'm struck by how much Jamaican revivalism head wraps look like Yoruba women's head wraps (geles). Click for a post on How To Tie Yoruba Geles.

    It appears from watching these featured videos and others that women who are members of or who attend Revivalism religious services must cover their hair. The head wraps are uniform in colors and patterns, but are wrapped in different styles.

    Revivalist men appear to mostly wear either a long head scarf of one color that is tied in the back and whose ends drap down or a turban which is tied in a similar fashion to the women's head wraps. However, there were some men in those videos who wore other head covering such as a fez or a broad straw hat, or a golden crown (worn by the bishop only.) Some men in those videos, unlike the women, wore nothing on their head.

  3. From the caption for the 2012 announcement quoted above of the clothing attire for the old time revival meeting, it appears that Revivalism clothing styles have changed over time.

    In contrast to the women's head wraps in particular, it appears to me that the uniformed military looking style of the outfits worn by Revivalism men and women owe more to the Monrovian religion than to traditional African religons. I know very little about the Monrovian religion in the Americans or in Africa. However, glimpses of the clothing of Monrovian women in South Africa can be found in the videos of South African brass bands. Click for some of those videos.