Liberia, a country founded by free slaves from America, seems to be neglecting its past, as request for financial support from the nearly 200 years old Providence Baptist Church where the nation signed its Declaration of Independence on July 26, 1847, goes unnoticed or virtually denied by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The church sits right on Broad Street, the heart of Monrovia, the capital, which is named in memory of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States of America. It is here, 17 former black slaves headed by Hilary Teage signed the Declaration of Independence, pronouncing Liberia to the world as a sovereign nation and member of the comity of nations.
When Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor made a personal cash donation of US$10,000 to the Church during Sunday worship Sunday, 16 February, she revealed that her personal effort in having the Baptist church included in the draft national budget as was legislated in the 18th hundredth, didn’t gain approval despite, leaving her with no alternative but to respond to a request for US$10,000 from the Head Pastor, Rev. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves.
“Though I didn’t manage to do what I had hoped but I will continue to try that God will open some hearts and doors so that the responsibility of the nation for that shrine and many others across our nation will be taken in the manner it should. I have come with my contribution to that process in the amount of ten Thousand United States dollars (US$10,000) to begin your work,” Vice President Taylor noted.
Baptists here consider the original edifice as a national shrine for being venue for the Declaration of Independence and hosting the first Legislature under late President Joseph Jenkins Roberts.
Madam Taylor explained that as head of the Liberian Senate and Vice President of the Republic, she had promised to use her office to ensuring that the church’s request be considered in the fiscal year 2019/2020 draft national budget, which didn’t materialize despite her efforts.
“I made my promise that I will do my very best because there was an actual legislation from the 1900s that the Government of the Republic of Liberia should be responsible to maintain that ancient land mark. Even though Providence Baptist Church sits here on this hill, it is a national alter and the responsibility is not just for Christians such as you and those before you, who have kept it to this day”,she asserted.
Receiving the money on behalf of the PBC, Rev. Dr. Reeves, thanked the Vice President and promised to use the fund for its intended purpose – to maintain the national shrine.
“We like to thank the Vice President for her personal contribution and this money goes to the maintenance of the national shrine, the old church. It is important and timely as we prepare for the two hundred (200yrs) anniversary of the church,” Pastor Reeves revealed.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne