January 17, 2019

Granddaughter of First Adventist in The Bahamas Celebrates 100th Birthday

Elizabeth “Betty” Moses was recently honored on her 100th birthday during a celebration that included the Governor-General of The Bahamas, local Seventh-day Adventist leaders, and members of the Johnson Park Adventist church in Nassau, January 5, 2019. Moses is the grandchild of the first Seventh-day Adventist in The Bahamas.

Governor-General of the Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling congratulated Moses for her achievement and praised her publicly for giving so much to her church, her family, and her community. “You have come from a distinguished and talented family who, among other things, pioneered the development of the Seventh-day Adventist movement in The Bahamas,” Governor Pindling said.

“The quality of service she rendered to the Bahamas Conference office while I served as president was exceptional,” said Leonard Johnson, former pastor of Johnson Park Adventist church. “She was very polite, professional, and had a sense of organization that brightened our office.” Moses assisted full time as the receptionist after she retired from working in the insurance business. She was in her 80s at the time.

Moses also dedicated years of service to her local church, leading in Sabbath School, working with the Pathfinders and Master Guides, and more.

Moses remembers being taken by horse and carriage, along with her grandmother, parents, and siblings, to Sabbath School on Sabbath mornings in the early 1900s. “I never got the privilege of knowing my paternal grandfather, but I did know my paternal grandmother, the matriarch of Adventism in the Bahamas, Mary Griffin-Antonio,” Betty explained.

Thanks to Adventist literature evangelists who visited The Bahamas, William Charles Antonio, a shoemaker and Moses’ paternal grandfather, accepted the Advent message. Reading books like The Desire of Ages by Ellen White and Bible Readings for the Home prompted Charles and his wife to engage in further Bible study. These studies resulted in Charles, his wife, and their four children keeping Saturday as the Sabbath and hosting the first branch Sabbath School in The Bahamas.

Moses’ father, William Wilshere Antonio, was the youngest of the four children. He was baptized in 1912 and became a member of the Shirley Street Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nassau, The Bahamas. Wilshere married Olive Fountain in 1915, and they had three children, Elizabeth's brother, Philip Glen Antonio, who is now 96 years old, and Tessie Mae, who is deceased.

In the basement of the small church on Shirley Street, Adventist education in the Bahamas continued to grow. At that time, Adventist education only went as far as the 8th grade. Moses remembers marching to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance.” “The music was played by one of our older members, and her name was Vera Henfield, on an organ that had to be pumped,” Moses said as she used her hands to demonstrate the pumping action.

"Being a Sabbath keeper at that time was extremely difficult as employers required you to work a six-day week," Moses said. "I therefore became an entrepreneur, making homemade candy and selling it to business places at the time."

Eventually, the Bahamian government amended the laws to restrict the business week to five days. Moses was then able to seek employment. She worked in the insurance business and as the receptionist at the office of the Bahamas Mission of Seventh-day Adventists and the Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She retired from the latter in 2008.

Moses still attends church almost every Sabbath with her son, Rodolph, at the Johnson Park Seventh-day Adventist Church on Farrington Road in Nassau, The Bahamas. Moses also has two grandchildren. Her husband passed away some years ago.

The original version story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.