top of page
Our History - Final.jpg

Serving Our Lord for 
Over 65 Years

In 1956 the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Don and Ruth Luttril founded radio station WIVV in Vieques, Puerto Rico. They influenced missionaries Clifford and LeEllen Bubar to come to the Caribbean to be a part of their work. Subsequently, the Bubars came to St. Croix where they were led by God’s guidance and grace to plant churches. During that time, there were no Baptist Churches on the island, and as a result of their efforts, they were instrumental in the birth of several St. Croix churches – Frederiksted Baptist Church, Sunny Isle Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church (Monserrat), Spanish Baptist Church at Clifton Hill; and Southgate Baptist Church – all are the fruit of their labor.

Picture9.jpg
Picture4.jpg
Church 1.jpg

The Bubars were blessed with one and a half acres of land donated by Mr. & Mrs. Ludvig and Helen Johansen to start the Sunny Isle Baptist Church at its present location. Its fancy hyperbolic parabola architectural design made it stand out amongst churches and any other building on the island. during the construction, assisted by Bro. Thomas Raphael, Bro. Jonathan Eusebe, Bro. Gordon McCreary and other faithful members, e.g. Bro. Joseph Simmonds, Bro. Alphonso Brooks, Bro. David Harrigan and Bro. Raymond Penny, along with other members of the community – Sunny Isle grew. Upon completion of the construction and in order to see clearly, Bro. David Singh and family contributed the sanctuary lighting. In fact his daughter, Sis. Angela Singh-Law was one of the first persons to be baptized at Sunny Isle – she was a mere child at the time.

Pastor and Sis. Bubar utilized music to help to draw many new members – he played trumpet and she played an accordion, organ and piano with the help of Sis. Ruth Austin. During this period, Bro. and Sis. Thomas Raphael and family visited the church’s first service and felt led to stay to become a part of what God was doing at Sunny Isle thus becoming one of the first families to join.

 

The Bubars and other early members, Bro. Jonathan Eusebe, Sis. Ruth Austin, Sis. Sarah Marks, Sis. Martha Raphael; and Bro. Joseph and Sis. “Peach” Simmonds, went from village to village to witness to the surrounding communities about the goodness of God and his love for all people – winning souls.

Picture9.jpg
Church 2.jpg
Picture11.jpg

As the church grew, other families joined and brought their children which lead to a vibrant youth ministry. The youth ministry was further infused by the involvement of the musical talents of Sis. Ruth Mitchell-James and Dr. Leroy Raphael who played for the youth, as well as, the general church. In the early years, the Living Christmas Tree was a youth activity directed by Sis. “Peach” Simmonds with assistance from both – Sis. Ruth Mitchell-James and Dr. Leroy Raphael. This event yielded hundreds of visitors at Christmas – extra nights were required to accommodate the throngs of interested persons who enthusiastically received the superb performance by the youth. Around this same time, a large adult choir was established under the leadership of Bro. Jonathan Eusebe – who was later assisted by Bro. Julian Mitchell. The Bubars saw a need for the establishment of a Men’s and a Women’s Fellowship Ministry. The Women’s Fellowship was started by teaching some women to cook, embroider and crochet which was led by Sis. Martha Raphael, Sis. “Peach” Simmonds, Sis. Pamela Powell, Sis. Joanna Germain, Sis. Millicent Harrigan, to name a few of the ladies. However, we would be remiss if we forgot to mention the sewing talents of Sis. Linda DeCaille.

599A1004.jpg

Sunday School was greatly enhanced through the teaching of Bro. Eldon Providence, Sis. Gerry Grant, Sis. Audrey Shank and Sis.  Roda Wenger – the latter three members – also sold books and other Christian literature through the church bookstore. Also, during this period, the “cutting of the tie” activity encouraged members to go into the community to recruit new members through outreach. Sis. Laurencia Richardson became known as the “walking Bible”.

The Bubars’ influence extended further into the community when they encouraged several young men to attend bible college. Those individuals continue to serve as pastors, namely:

  • Pastor Beltane Harrigan (The Way of the Cross Baptist Church, St. Croix);

  • Pastor Randy Petersen (Mt. Paran Missionary Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee before moving to another church);

  • and Pastor Anthony Benjamin (Calvary Baptist Church, St. Croix);

  • and Dr. Leroy Raphael became an assistant pastor (Kingsway Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida).

 

Additionally, visiting Pastor Carl Lindquist encouraged several persons to attend Bethel College – namely, Susan Providence, Marcella Simmonds and Alberta Simmonds.

After many years in the Caribbean, the Bubars returned to Florida to continue in ministry. Subsequent to their departure, progress over the years was sustained due to the commitment and faithfulness of several interim pastors. Throughout the different transitions, with multiple short and long-term interim pastors, our faithful church leader Deacon Eldon Providence and Bro. George DeCaille fed the flock and helped to keep Sunny Isle vibrant. Without Deacon Providence’s commitment over the years, it would have been difficult to sustain the church service and operation that is still enjoyed today.  Other interim pastors included Pastor & Sis. Robert Savage and family who shepherded the flock after returning from 25 years of ministry in Ecuador. Continuing in the already established tradition of reaching out into the community through home visits;  and under his leadership, the church experienced tremendous growth. Pastor & Sis. Emmanuel Parrillon and family followed and remained with the church for several years. While at Sunny Isle, he focused on a dynamic music ministry and was instrumental in establishing the church parsonage with the assistance of many members – specifically, Bro. Joseph Pant and Bro. George DeCaille fed the flock and helped to keep Sunny Isle vibrant. Without Deacon Providence’s commitment over the years, it would have been difficult to sustain the church service and operation that is still enjoyed today.  Other interim pastors included Pastor & Sis. Robert Savage and family who shepherded the flock after returning from 25 years of ministry in Ecuador. Continuing in the already established tradition of reaching out into the community through home visits;  and under his leadership, the church experienced tremendous growth. Pastor & Sis. Emmanuel Parrillon and family followed and remained with the church for several years. while at Sunny Isle, he focused on a dynamic music ministry and was instrumental in establishing the church parsonage with the assistance of many members – specifically, Bro. Joseph Pant and Bro. George DeCaille. Pastor Parrillon was followed by Pastor & Sis. Fred Swedburg and family who guided the completion of the church parsonage and continued to increase the flock.

After interim Pastor Swedburg left, the church welcomed Pastor & Sis. E. Kenneth Butler and family who assumed church leadership from 1989 – 2005. Arriving on St. Croix from Moody Bible College in Chicago, Illinois – one month before Hurricane Hugo – Pastor Butler set a goal to establish a Christian School to educate the total child – academically and spiritually. This was the earlier dream of Pastor Bubar which was now coming into fruition.

Parents were also encouraged to participate in their children’s education and the church to give youth a solid spiritual foundation.

Pastor Butler’s visionary drive established the Sunny Isle Baptist Christian Church School in 2001. With the construction being supervised by member, Bro. George DeCaille, along with the assistance of other members, the school was established serving pre-school to 6th grade. It started with 10 children and grew to a population of over 100 youth at its peak. Later, after the establishment of the school, the church got the opportunity to purchase the surrounding 4.5 acres of land in 2003.

During his tenure, Pastor Butler was also instrumental in making sure that the music ministry was enhanced with the sweet, melodic rhythm of steel pans and drums. He and his family left Sunny Isle in 2005 to start church planting on the mainland.

 

Enter Pastor Erastus “Russ” & Sis. Rosie Gardiner and family who came to Sunny Isle to lead the congregation in 2005. Before coming to Sunny Isle, Pastor Gardiner had been a student at Bluewater Bible College where he eventually became a professor. After studying at Bluewater, he continued his education at Tennessee Temple before being called to pastor the Sunny Isle Baptist Church congregation. During his tenure, from 2005-2014, he continued to develop the well-established ministry and focused on church beautification. His all consuming desire was to bring the unchurched, unpopular members of the community to the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He established a thriving bible study ministry for adults which explored the geography, biblical characters, politics and other aspects of the bible. He had a special gift and penchant for bringing the bible “alive” and this reputation encouraged participation by members and pastors from other churches in the general community. Additionally, Pastor Gardiner believed in making sure that the congregation got educational opportunities through seminars and presentations; and he also encouraged youth to attend college or in some way to further their education. Upon graduating from high school, the Holy Bible was a gift to remind them of the importance of Jesus in their personal lives wherever they traversed.

IMG_8276.JPG

After Pastor Gardiner departed the island in 2014, the role of pastor was passed on to Pastor Chaseau. Pastor Chaseau’s role as associate pastor and worship leader during Pastor Gardiner’s tenure served him well. He immediately rolled up his sleeves to ensure that the church would move forward by faith. Pastor Chaseau is committed to serving the lord and reaching our world for Christ. He encourages the congregation to be intentional in all our endeavors to serve God.

bottom of page