National Trust of Guyana

Smith’s Memorial Congregational Church

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Location: Stabroek, Georgetown

Classification: Religious

Period/ Year Built: 1843

Historical Background / Description:

Smith’s Memorial Congregational Church commonly referred to as Smith’s Memorial Church is located on Brickdam, Stabroek, Georgetown. The church was consecrated in tribute to Reverend John Smith. Reverend Smith, a missionary to British Guiana, was accused of inciting the 1823 slave rebellion which was considered the largest slave uprising in the then British colony. Reverend Smith was arrested, tried and sentenced to death. He was later acquitted, but before news of his acquittal could reach him, he died in prison on February 6, 1824. 

Reverend John Smith had arrived in the colony of British Guiana in February 1817, as a replacement to Reverend John Wray at the Bethel Congregational Church which was located on Plantation Le Ressouvenir on the East Coast of Demerara. Smith, as his predecessor did, sympathized with the plights of the enslaved Africans and besides conducting his usual duties as a minister, taught the slaves to read and write. Due to this close relationship, many plantation owners believed he was aiding the slaves in their rebellion.

Some 19 years after his death, on November 24, 1843, the church was dedicated by Reverend E.A. Wallbridge, a London Missionary Society minister. Unlike most ecclesiastical buildings, the altar is located at the northern part of the church, a direct contradiction of the standard layout of Christian churches at the time.