Every nation has it heroes, its visionaries, its champions.
Pastor William Connor must be categorised as one of the champions of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
In an era of reverse colonisation when Caribbean people were 'colonising' the domain of the colonisers. Pastor Connor could have left his native land and taken on the nationality of some distant country as many did during the 1950's and 60's, the emerging postcolonisation period in the Caribbean and the period immediately after World War ii. Instead, he remained at home and established a Sunday school for what he described as "underprivileged, unwanted, despised, neglected and down trodden children of the village" where he was raised. This Sunday School would gain a solid footing and evolve giving birth to the Baptist Movement in the Federation and a beacon known as the Antioch Baptist Church, first established Baptist Church, in the federation
The Birth of the Baptist Movement
At a time when the missionary zeal of United States of America was at its peak, when the churches of the United States were sending their people to pastor and pioneer West Indian Mission Houses, and when men like President John F. Kennedy of the United States of America were posting Peace Corps around the world, Pastor Connor was among the first of a handful of native Kittitians to take the initiative to throw out a home grown life line to his own people.
On Monday, 04 March, 1963, Bro Connor along with Pastor Ray Thompson of
St. Thomas, United States Virgin Island held discussions with the converts in the Inner Temple. Twenty-one Converts including Susanna O' Garro, Josephine Nias, Claris Williams, Ismay Francis, Rosalie Kelly, Urban Penny, Kelvin Jones, Mary Tuitt, Ida Vanlow, Louisa Frazer, Mary Simmonds, Spencer Walwyn, Laura Pemberton, Merleise Allen along with bro Connor decided that they were ready for the waters of baptism. The following day, Tuesday 5th March, at 5:00 a.m. , the converts were baptised at Lime Kiln Beach. Despite adversity, in the providence of God on that same day - 05 March 1963, Bro. Connor along with the converts came together with the assistance of Pastor Thompson and others of St. Thomas and Started the Antioch Baptist Church of St. Kitts.
On Sunday 26 May, 1963, the first communication service was held. Twenty-four believers shared in the Lord's Supper at the unity Friendly Society Hall. The hall was locally called "the black and white".
In the year following its formation, driven by a missionary spirit and upon the invitation of Ms. Marjorie Weeks, the Antioch Church Started a new Mission station in lodge village which was organized into the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.
In 1965 a mission was established in the holy ghost fire that had consumed St. Johnston Village and the surrounding areas was now spreading around the island. This time in the western direction. Information out of the village of St. Pauls had indicated that a group of young men wearing black shirts and bearing the name 'Black Shirt gang' was terrorising St. Pauls and organized and organized into the Calvary Baptist Church in 1975.
On 11th November 1990, Bro. William Connor made the triumphant march and went to be with the Lord. At the time of his passing he had served the Lord faithfully as a Sunday School teacher for 41 years, a Christian for 39 years and Pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church for 27 years. At the time of his passing, Bro. Connor had received several honours including:
1979 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed him an Officer of the British Empire. He was also awarded the Doctor of Divinity by the Caribbean Evangelical Association Incorporated.
1981 he was appointed an Honourary Deputy Sheriff of the State of Texas, USA.
1982 he was awarded Citizen of the Year by the organization of Progressive Nationals of St. Kitts as eminently and ethically qualified in the field of Sociology.
1983 when St. Kitts was granted Independent status from England, he was afforded the honour of giving the Keynote Address before a crowd of some 23,000 people.
1983 he was commissioned to the Order of Kentucky Colonels of the State of Kentucky, USA.
1986 he was awarded an Honorary Citizenship of the City of Lincoln in the State of Illinois, USA.
1988 he was also appointed as Lieutenant Colonel Aide De Camp Governor, Staff by His Excellency the Governor of the State of Georgia, USA.
1988 he was honoured by the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis by having the new St. Johnston Village Primary School named in his honour, (Dr. Williams Connor Primary).
In the years following, the church was pastored by Rev. Kelvin C. Jones C.B.E.
Pastor Lincoln Connor was ordained and installed as the third pastor of Antioch Baptist Church on Sunday 26 May 2002. Pastor Connor is a graduate of Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia and Dallas Theological Seminary. He serves as senior pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church and is supported by an enthusiastic staff.
Antioch Baptist Church emphasizes a gospel centered message with Jesus Christ being the same yesterday today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).