History of SAEBC
Standing proudly on the corner of Belle Smythe and Agostini Streets, in Curepe, Trinidad, is the building which houses the St. Augustine Evangelical Church (SAEBC). Located in a region which has been dubbed a University Town due to the presence of the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, (and the manner in which this has shaped the economy and urban environment of this area), the SAEBC has long been a haven to students and community members.
The SAEBC started in 1966 after a group of persons began meeting regularly for Sunday School and Evening services subsequent to the hosting of a series of tent meetings by Reverend D. Crane. These were led by Leroy and Audrey Johnson at the home of the Goddard’s, on the Corners of Wilson Street and the Eastern Main Road. By November, a warehouse on Francis Street was rented and the St. Augustine Evangelical Bible Chapel was launched, with a series of evangelistic meetings led by Reverend Norm Niemeyer. Regular Sunday School and Services continued at the new site.
During the 1970’s this body of believers grew in number as well as in areas of ministry such as the youth ministry, which thrived. After being shepherded by the Johnsons, then by Guy & Karen Storm, and later on by Ron Harder, 1976, leadership was provided for the St. Augustine Evangelical Bible Chapel by a joint Committee of the Men’s Council and Youth Leaders. This development was crucial in stabilizing local leadership and vision for the work. In January 1977, the SAEBC was formally established with a membership of 27 and a Church Board comprising three Elders: J. Crichlow; J. Caterson Sr.; and J.Caterson Jr., and two Deacons: A. Elcock and S. Pollock.
After a series of moves to various locations in the 1960’a and 70’s, in 1981, the Church was able to purchase 14,000 sq. ft. of land housing a garment factory on the Corners of Belle Smythe and Agostini Streets. The garment factory was renovated for Church use and the two-story house on the premises for an apartment (upstairs) and offices (downstairs). The apartment was occupied by Rev Garnet Parris and his wife Margaret who pastored the congregation at this time, and the offices were used by Light of Life and IS/IVCF.
The Church continued to grow. In 1989, the Parisses left to return to the UK, and the church has since been pastored by Rev J. Caterson Sr., Rev. Brian Skinner, and Pastor Dalkeith Bennett. The Church has continuously provided support for students through its ‘Home away from Home’ program and its Young Adults Sunday School class, and it builds relationships with the community through its Homework Centre, Benevolent Committee, Evangelism Committee, and its Sunday School Ministry which hosts annual programs such as Vacation Bible School, and Christmas concerts.
The SAEBC is grateful to God for His grace which has kept us over the past fifty years. We are committed to continuing to congregate right here on the corner of Belle Smythe and Agostini Streets, as ambassadors for Christ, allowing God to make His appeal through us to reconcile men to Himself.