St. Augustine’s Anglican Church
St Augustine’s congregation meets in the church at the top of St Augustine’s Hill at 9:15 am most Sundays.
This is an informal service that includes music, prayers, Bible readings, a sermon, and
How to get there … (Map)
St Augustine – History
In 1907, the rector, the Rev. James Davidson, established Sunday Schools in North Village (St. Monica’s) and in West Pembroke (St. Alban’s).
Both of these were intended to be missions to “serve parishioners who lived some distance from St. John’s. Miss Rosa Butterfield generously granted the use of her school in West Pembroke for St. Alban’s, and the mission began its life there. However, by 1916, St Alban’s had to find a new site, and the building for it was built on St. John’s Road.
In February 1908, Davidson drew attention to the further need for a Sunday School in Smith’s Hill to serve the population there. Exactly a year later, Davidson had the advantage of the assistance of Dr. N .B. Stewart, a Black, who had served the Bethel A.M.E. Church as pastor, but had left that church to I.Je licensed by the Bishop of Newfoundland and Bermuda as a Lay Reader with particular responsibility to oversee the church schools in the pa:r ishes of Hamilton, Smith’s, Devonshire and Pembroke. With Stewart’s help, Davidson was able to obtain the service of Mr. James Hay to be the superintendent of the Smith’s Hill Sunday School, and the school formally opened on 7 March 1909 in a hired room with borrowed chairs.
From such a modest beginning, the only path upward. Davidson granted a portion of his glebe land for a site for a mission on Smith’s Hill as he had previously done for St. Monica’s at North Village.
Funds were raised, and building commenced to a design by Horace H. Hallett (who had also been the architect of St. Monica’s as well as of additions to St. John’s). On Whitsunday 1911 (4 June), the building was opened in the presence of a large crowd. It was given the name of St. Augustine’s Mission Room after St. Augustine of Hippo, the African bishop who profoundly influenced western theological thought.
An organ, which had been at the Cathedral, and then used at the Garrison Chapel in Prospect, was installed in 1912. The chancel was added in 1916, also to Hallett’s design, and was opened on Whitsunday (11 June).
In 1913, there were donations of church furniture from the Cathedral. As Canon Davidson described them in the Pembroke and Devonshire Parochial Magazine: ‘Among the gifts were part of the stairway, belonging to the Cathedral pulpit which we hope to use as a pulpit, the old Bishop’s throne, which will make a very nice clergy stall, several kneelers, prayer desks, carpets &c.’. Also in June 1913, St. Augustine’s was lit by electricity, ten years before this advantage came to St. John’s.
Smith’s Hill had become the favoured site of a colony of West Indian immigrants who had settled in that area. At that time, Bermudians looked down on West Indian immigrants who were made to feel that they were outsiders. As a result, they felt unwelcome in the other missions and in St. John’s. The new mission thus became for them a spiritual haven where they worshipped in dignity and comfort.
The congregation’s feeling of isolation from the broader community resulted in the development of a strong bond of kinship. The members placed a high value on education and inspired their offspring to pursue academic excellence. They possessed a strong work ethic and Bermuda was culturally enriched as these immigrants brought with them customs and traditions which have now become an integral part of the mosaic that is Bermuda. Thus, St. Augustine’s became to them more than a mission; it served as a church to which they could contribute and which was a focus for their religious life.
The first Superintendent of the Sunday School, James Hay, was succeeded by Philip Henry who died in November 1910. His successor was the first Lay Reader in charge of St. Augustine’s, and was a Jamaican, George A. DaCosta, who served from 1911 to 1934. He had come to Bermuda in 1892 to head the Bermuda Collegiate Institute which had been established by the A.M.E. Church. In 1897, he severed his connection with that school and became the first Headmaster of the Berkeley Institute.
He was succeeded as Lay Reader in charge by Joseph T. Christopher, a Kittitian, who was in charge from 1934 to 1952. It was during Christopher’s tenure of office that the church hall was built (1945/46) by the Kittitian contractor, Joseph Daulphin. For this project, a number of members of St. Augustines mortgaged their homes in order to secure funds for the construction.
Many of the persons who formerly worshipped in this unique church are now dispersed throughout the Island, and have taken with them a rich heritage of spiritual values inculcated within the walls of St. Augustine’s. As St. Augustine, the patron, has influenced the world, so has this mission which bears his name influenced past and present generations in Bermuda.