Overview of the Country
Dominica is an island country of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It lies between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante to the north and Martinique to the south. The island is 29 miles (47 km) long and has a maximum breadth of 16 miles (26 km). The capital and chief port is Roseau. Population estimate (2021) is 66,400. The country has been a member of the Commonwealth since independence in 1978.1
Dominica has a high drainage density with many rivers and streams described by many as a tropical paradise island. Most of the island has rainfall of more than 4,000 millimeters per year, and most of the island’s volcanic rocks are impermeable – they cannot absorb water quickly.2
Dominica's ethnic composition (2001) is mainly of African descent (86.6 percent), mixed (9.1 percent), indigenous (2.9 percent), and other (1.4 percent). Dominica is the only island with a relatively large group of Carib Indians, descendants of the people who inhabited the island before European colonization.3
English is the official language, but a French patois is commonly spoken. The majority of the population (2001) is Roman Catholic (c. 61.0 percent), but there are also Protestants (c. 28.0 percent), nonreligious (c. 6.0 percent), and others (c. 5.0 percent).4 The largest Protestant groups are Evangelicals (6.7 percent), Seventh-day Adventists (6.1 percent), Pentecostals (5.6 percent), Baptists (4.1 percent), and Methodists (3.7 percent).5
Agriculture remains the most important sector of the economy. Other sectors include the fishing industry and tourism.6
History of Adventism in Dominica
The 1993 edition of the Caribbean Union Gleanings hints at one of the greatest historical and theological challenges that Seventh-day Adventists faced on the island:
Dominica is the most northerly island of our Conference. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus on a Sunday in 1493, so he named it Dominica, that is “Sunday Island” in “honour of the Sabbath day.”7
Sunday (Latin: dies dominica, “the Lord’s day”) was not only imbedded in the island’s name, but the Sunday-keeping churches like the Roman Catholic Church had been strong and with a long presence on the island, starting with the first French colonists in the 1600s.8
In 1901, two Sabbath-keepers from Antigua took up residence in Dominica and raised up a small company of Sabbath believers. Between 1901 and 1975, the Seventh-day Adventist membership crawled from a very small group to 1,089. In 1991, it increased to 3,376.9
According to Floyd Greenleaf, in the first month of 1904, Philip and Louse Giddings evangelized Roseau, Dominica, with a program that left little time to think about the dismal years behind them. “Our program was as follows,” he wrote. “Sunday afternoon, open-air preaching; Sunday night, preaching; Monday night, preaching; Tuesday night, women’s Bible class by Mrs. Giddings; Wednesday night, men’s Bible class; Thursday night, general Bible reading; Friday, short exhortation, prayer, praise, and an opportunity for any desirous to seek the Lord; Sabbath, the usual meeting of Sabbath School, etc....” Mrs. Giddings had opened a school in physiology, hygiene, and calisthenics.10
There were significant developments in 1983. The Dominica Secondary School building was dedicated. There were two churches dedicated on April 10 of that same year: Bourne and Point Michel.11 “By 1988 the school’s enrollment had grown to 179, and a five-year secondary education was offered to prepare students for the job market. In 1993 there were 13 staff members and a student enrollment of 220.”12
The growth of the church in the Eastern District, from the Carib Reserve to Delice, was the most isolated in the island and very challenging. The establishment of churches and companies during the period of 1991 to 1993 was as follows:
In May 1991, Pastor Morzart Serrant (now deceased) during his first crusade in San Sauveur, 25 souls were baptized. In January 1992, he went to Laplaine, an unentered area, and 12 precious souls were baptized. A new company was established. In October 1992, Pastor Augustus launched the Operation Victory Crusade in Grand Fond, another unentered area and 18 souls were baptized. In 1993, in Petite Soufriere, 3 were baptized. That same year, Pastor Royson Philbert was specially chosen to accelerate the growth of the church through public evangelism and 93 persons were baptized.13
Regarding the historic aspect, the ceremony that took place in the Carib Reserve on September 6, 1992, was groundbreaking. The group in the Carib Reserve in Dominica began with the pioneering work of Mederick Fabien. This section of the island has been reserved by the Dominica Government for the Carib (indigenous) people. Land in the reserve is not to be sold, but the East Caribbean Conference received permission from the Carib Council to erect a stone structure which the council hoped would be a unifying link for the Carib Community.
At this ceremony, “Mr. Irvince Augiste, the Carib Chief, delivered his thought-provoking address and Dr. Eugene Daniel, the then Ministerial Secretary of the Caribbean Union, and Union President, Elder Gordon Martinborough, delivered the prayer of consecration. Many church members and villagers came out to witness the occasion.”14
Maranatha Volunteers International played a pivotal role in the growth of the church between 1985 and 1992. This Adventist organization built new church buildings in Roseau, Dublanc, Colihaut, and Ville Case. It also built a new wing, which accommodated a library and staff rooms, for the secondary school in Portsmouth in 1993.15
March 18, 1993, was a significant date for the spiritual and financial development of the Adventist church in Dominica. Pastor Everette Howell, who was the Church Ministries director at that time, initiated a new stewardship emphasis and an on-the-job Training Manual for Church Stewardship. The stewardship training began at the Beryle Seventh-day Adventist Church.16
Major Recent Evangelistic Campaigns
Evangelist Roosevelt Daniel conducted his first evangelistic campaign in Roseau in 1987. After eight weeks, 191 people were baptized.
In July 1993, a new Adventist church was established in Castle Bruce thanks to the evangelistic campaign led by Pastor Redverse Philbert.
Adventism had existed in Castle Bruce for 40 years, but progress was slow. Since Castle Bruce is dominated by Roman Catholics and other Protestants, we requested that Pastor Redverse Philbert hold that crusade in July, 1993. As a result, 93 souls were baptized. Castle Bruce would never be the same again. Some religious leaders wrote the commissioner of police against the crusade, but again God represented us. A new church building was erected in Castle Bruce. Many who were held captive by sex, drugs, and alcohol were set free by the cross.17
In 2004, Clive P. Dottin, Youth Department director of the Caribbean Union Conference, conducted a Mega Mission Integrated Evangelistic Festival at the Ans De Mai Recreation Ground. This mission project included hospital ministry, school and media ministry, counseling, prayer focus, and prophetic preaching. Over 12 schools were visited, and more than 3,000 students were blessed through the motivational messages. Pastor Jansen Trotman, president of the Caribbean Union Conference in 2004, reported that “[t]he voluntary broadcasts on radio and television of [the] crusade sermons had a positive impact on the image of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”18
In 2007, Roosevelt Daniel returned to Roseau and engaged in a 20th-anniversary Maranatha crusade. “The culmination of this harvest reaping Maranatha crusade saw the establishment of the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Company in the Roseau North Region. In addition, two other companies were formed to facilitate the members from King Shill and Fond Cole.”19
The presence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dominica is very well felt throughout the island. There are 23 Adventist churches and five companies, three primary schools (Ebenezer Primary, Western District SDA Primary, and Temple SDA Primary), and two secondary schools (Dominica Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School and Arthur Walden SDA Academy).
CARICOM Secretariat. “Caricom Capacity Development Programme (CCDP): 2000 Round of Population and Housing Census Sub-Project: National Census Report: Dominica.” Commonwealth of Dominica. 2009. Accessed May 6, 2022. http://statistics.caricom.org/Files/Publications/NCR%20Reports/Dominica.pdf.
Fabien, Jerrilyn. “Dominica Anniversary Crusade Baptizes Almost 200.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 80, no. 3. Third Quarter. 2007.
Greenleaf, Floyd. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. Berrien Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1992.
Murray, Eric John. “The East Caribbean Conference.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 64, no. 2. Second Quarter. 1991.
Murray, Eric John. “Church Dedication.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 56, no. 1. First Quarter. 1984.
Niddie, David Lawrence and Janet D. Momsen. “Dominica.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 31, 2021. Accessed May 19, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/place/Dominica.
Pascal, Winnifred. “Adventism in Eastern District, Dominica – 1991 to 1993.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 66, no. 1. Fourth Quarter. 1993.
Philip, Irwin. “Historic Ground Breaking in Dominica.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 1, no. 1. First Quarter. 1993.
Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second revised edition. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996. S.v. “Dominica Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School.”
Spencer, Carl. “New Stewardship Emphasis in Dominica.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 66, no. 4. Fourth Quarter. 1993.
Trotman, Jansen. “Evangelizing Our Communities.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol. 17, no. 3. Third Quarter. 2004.
Mark Wilson, The Caribbean Environment for CSEC Geography, Fifth Edition (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2016), 48.↩
Niddie and Momsen, “Dominica.”↩
CARICOM Secretariat, “Caricom Capacity Development Programme (CCDP): 2000 Round of Population and Housing Census Sub-Project: National Census Report: Dominica,” Commonwealth of Dominica, 2009, 38, accessed May 6, 2022, http://statistics.caricom.org/Files/Publications/NCR%20Reports/Dominica.pdf.↩
Niddie and Momsen, “Dominica.”↩
Eric John Murray, “The East Caribbean Conference,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 64, no. 2, Second Quarter, 1991, 2-3.↩
Niddie and Momsen, “Dominica.”↩
Murray, “The East Caribbean Conference,” 3.↩
Floyd Greenleaf, The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latin America and the Caribbean (Berrien Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1992), 137.↩
Eric John Murray, “Church Dedication,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 56. no. 1, First Quarter, 1984, 21.↩
Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Dominica Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School.”↩
Winnifred Pascal, “Adventism in Eastern District, Dominica – 1991 to 1993,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, Vol. 66, no. 1, Fourth Quarter, 1993, 3.↩
Irwin Philip, “Historic Ground Breaking in Dominica,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 1, no. 1, First Quarter, 1993, 10.↩
Murray, “The East Caribbean Conference,” 3.↩
Carl Spencer, “New Stewardship Emphasis in Dominica,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 66, no. 4, Fourth Quarter, 1993, 7.↩
Winnifred Pascal, “Adventism in Eastern District, Dominica – 1991 to 1993,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 66, no. 1, Fourth Quarter, 1993, 3.↩
Jansen Trotman, “Evangelizing Our Communities,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 17, no. 3, Third Quarter, 2004, 7.↩
Jerrilyn Fabien, “Dominica Anniversary Crusade Baptizes Almost 200,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. 80, no. 3, Third Quarter, 2007, 9.↩