A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, BOMI
Brother Edwin Varney Gbessay Freeman (EVG Freeman) was an Episcopalian and a former student of the St. John’s Episcopal School and Church in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County from 1934 -1941. He graduated on December 16, 1941with four classmates.
After his graduation, he migrated to Bomi Hills (now Bomi County) to seek employment with the Liberia Mining Company (LMC). He was employed on March 2, 1948. In the ensuing year of 1951, he noticed that there were only two Christian denominations in the area. They were the Baptists and Pentecostals.
As a way of organizing an Episcopal Church outreach in the area among those of Episcopal persuasion, Brother Freeman started a prayer meeting group that visited some Christian friends on Sunday evenings. This was with the assistance of Sisters Rebecca Chesson, Frances Jones, and Sarah Jackson. The brothers were those of Edwin Jones and Brodell Jackson. Out of these meetings emanated the first Episcopal Church gathering which was situated at the back of the Bomi Hills cinema in Vai town. For worship services, an edifice was built of local materials (round poles, mud walls and thatched roofing). This was in the 1950s. After the completion of the edifice along, with registration as a diocesan member, Brother Ernest Metzger served as secretary along with Brother Edwin Jones. Brother Freeman who served as chairman of the church’s organized vestry committee, wrote Bishop Bravid Harris for a dedication service. Because of Bishop Harris’ inability, he designated Reverend Father James Tucker to officiate at the dedicatory service. The edifice was not long in standing because of the materials used. But with the help of the diocesan office the edifice was rebuilt with stronger materials. At this time Brother Freeman served as the Church’s first Layreader.
As the years progressed, the Church did not grow in its membership. Because of this lack, Brother Freeman suggested to the vestry that it was necessary to add a school in order to increase the Church’s membership. So between 1955/1956 a construction was started. In 1956 classes began. The school started at the elementary and junior high level and grew in its student enrollment. Over the years, the school became one of the leading academic institutions in Bomi Hills. The School had seven classrooms and two administrative offices including one for St. Paul’s Parish. The school was destroyed and ravaged during the Liberian civil crises (1990-2003).
The desire of the Church’s Vestry to increase membership was realized as the school population grew over the years. The Church’s membership grew to over 200 registered individuals which led to the problem of seating at Sunday worship services. In order to curb the problem, the vestry agreed during the decade of the 1970s to construct a larger space that would accommodate and allow the full participation of parishioners in the worship services. The church was then located on Tubman Avenue. The construction for a larger space was completed in the ensuing years and in 1987, Bishop George Browne officiated at a dedicatory service to the glory of God for the work started by His servants. During the ceremony, 28 persons were confirmed. The war brought a lot of setback for the church’s edifice with regard to further expansion and beautification.
The first edifice situated at the back of the cinema occupies two lots, along with the new edifice located on Tubman Avenue. The current membership of St. Paul’s now stands at about 90 and attendance at Sunday services fluctuates between 25 and 35.