Going back to Jamaica, the land of her birth, is always an occasion that Archbishop Rev. Dr. Delores Seivright looks forward to with anticipation except the trip two years ago when she returned to bury her mother.
Her most recent trip last month was, however, even more special as she was one of two Greater Toronto Area-based nationals honoured by the Jamaican government on Heroes Day – October 17 – at the national awards ceremony at King’s House.
Seivright received the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service to religion. She has been at it for over 30 years.
“Anytime you are honoured by a government for your contributions, that’s significant,” said Seivright, who grew up in Trelawny before coming to Canada in 1969. “It’s such an honour for me for the outreach work I have been doing for so many years.”
Seivright migrated to Canada with the intention of joining her sister in the nursing profession. With no money to enroll in nursing school, she changed course and joined Bell Canada where she stayed for 27 years, rising to become a project manager before leaving in 1996.
While at Bell, she attended Tyndale University College & Seminary part-time, graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor of Religion degree. She attained her Masters and Doctorate of Religion from the Caribbean School of Theology and a Masters in Metaphysics online from Arizona University.
“My father was a deacon and we were raised in the church,” said Seivright. “So I was always excited by the ministry and the idea of becoming a preacher because I love to talk.”
She co-founded St. Frederic’s Cathedral and the Shouters National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith. The Shouters have practiced in Canada since 1974 under the guidance of Seivright who was appointed Archbishop of the Canadian diocese 15 years ago.
The Spiritual Baptist/Shouters denomination has its roots in Trinidad & Tobago where Liberation Day is an annual public holiday which has been celebrated for the past 14 years on March 30. The holiday marks the repeal on March 30, 1951 of the 1917 Shouter Prohibition Ordinance that outlawed the group’s activities. The ban was imposed, ostensibly, because the Shouters celebrated too energetically.
It was, however, suspected that the real reason their activities were curtailed was because the colonizers were opposed to their Afrocentric practices.
Worshippers who defied the ban were beaten, arrested and jailed, and they had to flee to the hills and forests to practice their religion without interference. After much lobbying, the bill to overturn the ban was passed in 1951.
Seivright said she embraced the Shouters since Trinity College – Canada’s oldest Anglican theological school – was averse to accepting women at the time.
“I originally wanted to become a Pentecostal but it was not easy for women then,” she said. “I am also very charismatic and the shouting-type who could not flourish in some of the faiths that are more reserved. Things have worked out well for me with the Shouters in that I have been given the opportunity to do a lot of outreach and grassroots work.”
Seivright also enjoys working with young people and helping them attain their dreams and goals. Since 1999, she has created and operated youth-focused programs and provided scholarships.