Spiritual Baptists (Shouters)

This sect stems from the shakers movement a society of worshippers founded in England in the late 18th century that was brought in on the island of St. Vincent- and from the Baptist religion brought to Trinidad & Tobago by American missionaries. Today, it's practiced in these countries alongside Canada, England and the U.S., where it reached through the migration process.
The sect was formerly known as shouters, yet its worshippers reject this term. That's why they are also known as Spiritual Baptists.
Its worshipping community is very brotherly and makes up a close-knit group that practices mutual collaboration among its members and watches for their amusement.
Spiritual Baptists do not have a formal organization. Each group is somewhat independent. Their leaders are lay and excel as great singers, praying people, emcees and knowledgeable individuals on medicinal herbs. Theres a rigid hierarchical structure made up of preachers and provers (Bible construers); shepherds who take care of children; watchmen who welcome visitor; water carriers who baptize the new believers, and the nurses, in charge of looking after retired candidates.
This cult is dominated by men who lead rituals, while women are out in search of religious experiences. Baptists believe in God, in Christ and in the Holy Ghost, and they construe them in their own way. Mass plays a key role and it could last from two to six hours. Worshippers applaud their leaders and usually butt in with approving shouts and yelling. Chants are accompanied by clapping, kicking and drum beating. Practitioners usually fall in a state of possession, lie on the floor and lay bare their sins.
These churches sometimes practice rites from the Cult of Shango as one of its worshippers is possessed by an African deity. However, there's no clear sign of syncretism here, but rather a juxtaposition or parallelism of elements between one manifestation and the other.
The main event among Spiritual Baptists is the mourning, marked by a prolonged ban on any food intake and by the encounter between God and the Holy Ghost. Another outstanding ceremony is the baptism the process requires a complete immersion in a river- and healing, one of the most important Baptist rituals. Women who excel in the knowledge of medicinal herbs are the ones who conduct the healing. According to popular belief, diseases are caused by an imbalance in body fluids that evil spirits bring along. To fight them off, purification is the way of choice among Baptists.
In many occasions, Spiritual Baptists who as a matter of fact stress on the possession of the Holy Ghost- and practitioners of the Cult of Shango take part indistinctively in their own ceremonies. Both religions are closely linked due to their historical backgrounds and the incorporation of certain Hindu traditions that allow worshippers on both sides of the aisle to identify with the two religious manifestations across the board.