Saint James Methodist Church, Hope Town, The Bahamas

Saint James Methodist Church on Elbow Cay: A Divine Deception

Love your neighbor as yourself… It is among the most basic of the 10 Commandments. One you’d certainly expect to see followed in church, most especially by the priest, right? The breaking of this very Commandment in this very spot, though, is what gives the otherwise plain-looking Saint James Methodist Church a very colorful past…

As noted previously, the church stands our prominently despite its understated appearance. A big reason for this is its location. St. James sits right along the Atlantic shores of Elbow Cay in Hope Town, one of the most charming seaside towns you’ll find in the Abacos, or really anywhere in The Bahamas.

It is this seaside location, though, that begat the nefarious Commandment-breaking act…

St. James by the sea in Abaco
Saint James Methodist Church by the sea in Abaco | Photo by Patrick Bennett

Sneaky Sermon

This legend is set in the 19th century. Salvaging shipwrecks was big business in the Abacos at the time. Most every able-bodied male living in the islands at the time was involved in the enterprise. This included the preacher presiding over the Saint James Methodist Church congregation at the time.

One Sunday, as the story goes, the preacher ended mass abruptly, instructing all parishioners to keep their heads bowed as he exited the church.

The reason: he had spied a shipwreck from the pulpit during his sermon and wanted first dibs on all the loot.

Atlantic Coast Near St. James, Hope Town | SBPR
Atlantic Coast Near St. James, Hope Town | SBPR

A New Saint James Methodist Church Built on Fairness

St. James, as it existed then, was not the current structure you’ll find in Hope Town today. The church was rebuilt several times on the same spot over the centuries.

In fact, when it came time to re-build a few years after the preacher’s deception, parishioners ensured that the reef just offshore could not be seen from the new pulpit.

Do unto others…

The wrecking industry has long since faded from prominence in the Abacos, of course. The sublime oceanfront setting of Saint James Methodist Church, though, continues to distinguish the house of worship, making it an ideal location for destination weddings.

Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

Related Posts


View From Elbow Reef Lighthouse, Abaco: Photo of the Day

As amazing views go, this one that I enjoyed just yesterday high atop the ancient Elbow Reef Lighthouse in Abaco, The Bahamas is pretty unforgettable.
Touring Hope Town Hummingbird Cottage, Hope Town

Touring Hope Town on Elbow Cay, The Bahamas

Touring Hope Town reveals a colorfully quaint, charming, and quiet enclave that's as fantastically laid back as anywhere I'd ever visited.
Somewhere in the Sea of Abaco, The Bahamas | SBPR

Counting Islets in the Sea of Abaco, The Bahamas

I don't know what these islets are called. I didn't get a chance to tie up at either of them during my last visit to the Abaco Islands a few years ago.
Send this to a friend