The Baptist Community in Jamaica and the Caribbean has been plunged into mourning following the passing of one of its veteran Ministers, the Rev Luther B Gibbs. Rev Mr. Gibbs is a former two-time President of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) and former Pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church, St Andrew, Jamaica for over two decades. He died at the age of 97 after ailing for some time.
Rev Gibbs; who has been a pastor of the JBU for over 40 years, spent most of his pastoral journey at the Boulevard Baptist Church where he was known to have built one of the largest Baptist Churches in Jamaica. Rev Mr. Gibbs; who is known as the “Building Pastor”, has been described by many as a true husband, father, brother, counsellor, a man of integrity and a serious man of God. His lifetime partner, Beryl of 61 years, predeceased him in 2017. During the years after retirement, he worshipped at the New Haven Baptist Church in St Andrew, where he was instrumental in building that Church.
Among the many achievements of this distinguished Baptist Minister, in 1969 a small building was erected on the property of Calabar High School and Boulevard Baptist Church came into being with thirty-three members. So rapid was the growth in membership that six years later, on September 11, 1975, Rev Luther Gibbs accepted the call to the fulltime pastorate of Boulevard Baptist Church having served at the Hanover Street Baptist Church for a number of years. He immediately set his eyes on building a Chapel large enough to accommodate 2,000 people which was completed and officially opened in December 1978. This building has hosted several sittings of the JBU Annual Meetings and has facilitated activities like dental care, legal aid, skills training, adult education, counselling and care basket. The Rev Gibbs retired from pastoral work in 1990 having served the Boulevard Church for 21 years. A building has been named in his honour at the Church.
The distinguished Man of God has also given sterling service to the JBU where he served as Secretary and subsequently Moderator of the Kingston and St Andrew Baptist Association, two time Vice President and two time President of the beloved JBU and acted as General Secretary in 1964 and was the General Secretary from 1991 until his retirement in 1994. Rev Gibbs has given pastoral oversight to a number of JBU Churches including Phillipo, Denham Town,
At the inter-denominational level, he was Secretary and President of the Jamaica Christian Endeavour and also assistant Secretary and Vice President of the Jamaica Council of Churches. He has been a long-standing member of the Kingston Keswick Council.
In 1992, the Government of Jamaica awarded the Rev Mr. Gibbs with the Order of Distinction Commander Class.
Rev Gibbs was educated at the Gibraltar Primary School, St Ann (where he was successful in the First, Second and Third Jamaica Local Examinations), Calabar Theological College (Diploma in Ministerial Training) and the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA (where he earned the MA degree in Religion, majoring in Adult Education and Church Administration).
Rev Luther Gibbs leaves behind four adult children, grandchildren and a host of relatives, friends and the Baptist Community locally and overseas. May his soul rest in peace. We will meet you in the morning.
[Contributed by Senior News Editor Professor Colin O Jarrett]