The Slave Trade Abolition Act passed by the British Parliament on March 23, 1807 prohibited an vessel engaging in slave trade from being cleared at any port located in British Territory after March 1, 1808. Thereafter, slave ships were boarded by the British, the slaves were confiscated and were landed at the nearest British port. The same procedure was followed in the case of a shipwreck.
In New Providence, several villages were established away from the town centre to accommodate these liberated Africans; Adelaide was one of them. The Governor of the Bahamas argued in favour of these individuals being educated, in which he was supported by the Anglican Bishop of Jamaica, who at the time also served as Bishop of the Bahamas.
Archdeacon McCammon Trew, with the help of the Church Aid Society, the Society of the Provision of Christian Knowledge and the government, built a church in Adelaide. It was completed and opened for service in 1849; the foundation having been laid in 1848. It was consecrated by the Rev Aubrey George Spencer, the Bishop of Jamaica, on March 22, 1850.
The incumbent of the parish of St Anne, established 1845, was given the responsibility of giving pastoral care to the two communities of liberated slaves at Adelaide and Carmichael. After some years, they both became mission districts of the parish of Christ Church.
This status remained until St Barnabas came into being in 1929, when St James, the only congregation in Adelaide, was attached to that new parish.
Another change took place in 1964 when it was attached to the parish of St Christopher, Lyford Cay. That relationship continued until 1981, when it became a diocesan mission parish.
At Adelaide, a school as well as a church were built. Since that time, a close relationship between the two entities has always existed. Whenever one building was in a poor state of repair, the other was utilised. This has occurred often over the years.
Until the 1950s, a priest was unable to celebrate mass there every Sunday, and so, like at many churches in the Family Islands, the lay ministry of catechists and lay readers were frequently used, and indeed, enabled worship to continue.
In 1926, a severe hurricane destroyed the church and schoolhouse as well as the homes and farms of many in the community. The village became desolate. However, two years later, in 1928, a few of the former inhabitants returned to the village. Services began again at the school. Shortly after, the church was restored. Father Senior, the parish priest, was responsible for this restoration.
In preparation for the centenary celebrations of the church in 1948, both the church and the school were rebuilt. In the late 1960s, a sacristy was added at the western end of the church. Ever since that time the structures of the church and school have continually been improved. This is a testimony to the care, concern and dedication shown by successive parish priests and the generosity of church members and many friends.
This Sunday, St James Anglican Church will begin its 170th anniversary celebrations with a service at 3.30pm.