By Noelle Khalila Nicolls
January 20, 2017
© WhiteTulip / Alamy

The most famous church in the Bahamas is by far Christ Church Cathedral, the mother of all Anglican churches in the Bahamas. The grandly imposing church building in downtown Nassau is striking because of its size and Gothic architecture. It anchors the city center as an historic landmark. The early beginnings of the church were quite turbulent here, as feuding colonial powers made the building a casualty of war. Between 1670 and 1695, the church was built under the order of the British king, Charles II, and destroyed by the Spaniards several times. Although originally made out of wood, the current incarnation, which was erected in 1724, was eventually pieced together with locally quarried limestone blocks (a more enduring material). 

While anyone interested in historic churches in the Bahamas should make the first stop at Christ Church Cathedral, there are several other notable churches where you can pursue an exploration into the Bahamian world of Christian spirituality.

Bethel Baptist Church

The old city of Nassau is bordered to the south by a number of historic African townships, including Bain and Grants Town. These areas, generally known collectively as “over the hill,” were homesteads for the enslaved Africans in a segregated Bahamas. Bethel Baptist Church, which laid its foundations in 1790, more than forty years before the British Slavery Abolition Act, was the first over-the-hill church to be built on the island. It remains a prominent church in the community. 

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

Known as the "Apostle of the Indies" and the "Apostle of Japan” for his missionary work in Asia, the legacy of St. Francis Xavier reached across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies, where this cathedral was built in his honor in Nassau. As the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the Bahamas, it is a monument as well as a living hub for its congregation.

St. John’s Anglican Church

The pale pink building housing this Harbour Island church dates back to 1768. This church has a history that is integrally connected to the wider history of the archipelago, since the two main settlers who repopulated the islands after the indigenous populations were decimated were the Eleutheran Adventurers and the British Loyalists. According to church history records, the descendants of the Eleutheran Adventurers worshipped in the halls of St John’s, along with the fleeing Loyalists who arrived in the 1700s. 

All Saints Anglican Church

Crooked Island once served as a major transfer point for cargo ships sailing between Europe and the Americas. All communications to the archipelago were ferried through the island, as Landrail Point was the location of The Bahamas' first General Post Office. As one of the oldest churches on the island, the All Saints Anglican Church records much of the community’s history as well as its own. 

St. Stephen's Anglican Parish Church

In Eight Mile Rock on Grand Bahama, the historic St. Stephen's Anglican Parish Church stands as evidence of the longstanding presence of Anglicans in the Bahamas. History records that two Anglican priests were amongst the Eleutheran Adventurers who fled to the Bahamas for refuge, repopulating the islands in the 17th century. St Stephen’s was the first Anglican church built on this second largest and northernmost Bahamian island.

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