- Spain first discovered the Bahamas, a set of islands more than 500 miles southeast of Miami, but they were first settled by the British, who brought the Church of England with them. Methodists arrived in 1786, loyalists from the losing side of the American Revolution. The Methodist community gained new strength in the 1870s with help from the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which had expanded rapidly following the American Civil War and launched its own international missionary program.Though growing in absolute numbers, the Anglican community became a smaller percentage of the Protestant community as rival churches grew. Being so close to the United States, the islands saw missionaries from many different North American churches. British Baptists sent their first representative in the 1830s. The Bahamas National Baptist Union is now the second-largest church on the islands.Among 20th-century arrivals, the fastest-growing have been the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which began work in 1909, and the Church of God (Anderson,Indiana). As in many of the Caribbean islands, Pentecostalism has flourished, especially in the decades since World War ii; its followers are scattered among a variety of churches such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of God (Cleveland,Tennessee), and the Church of God of Prophecy.Ecumenically, the Bahamas Christian Council is notable for its broad base. it includes Pentecostals, Methodists, the Brethren, Baptists,Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and the Salvation Army. It is associated with the World Council of Churches.See also Caribbean.Further reading:■ V M. Prozan, A Religious Survey of the Bahamas Islands (Columbia, S.C.: Columbia Bible College, M.A. thesis, 1961; David Barrett, The Encyclopedia of World Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)■ Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World, 21st Century Edition (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster, 2001).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.