Keswick is a small town in the north of England’s Lake District. In June, 1875, two Christian men were praying for a spiritual awakening in the region. They began planning to host meetings for three days, focusing on practical holiness among Christians across denominational lines.
The first meeting was held in a tent and was attended by some 600 persons. The motto from Galatians 3:28 was chosen (“… all one in Christ Jesus”). Since that summer in 1875, the motto for the Keswick Convention has been the same and each year in July, thousands from around the world converge on the little town of Keswick in England for a time of spiritual refreshing and renewal.
“… for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28
Jamaican, John Clark attended the convention in Keswick and was so impressed, on his return to Jamaica, he launched the first overseas convention in Mandeville, Jamaica in 1900. Since that launch, Keswick conventions have spread to major townships in Jamaica and around the Caribbean, including Grand Cayman, Barbados and Trinidad.
Many who benefited from the ministry of Keswick in the islands now live in South Florida. They brought with them the Keswick passion for non-divisive expository preaching. It was that passion that inspired the birthing of South Florida Keswick. Among the Caribbean diaspora were Christian ministers who had provided leadership to the movement in the islands for many years.
Some of those leaders became the nucleus for South Florida Keswick. In 2001, leaders began to meet for prayer and planning. Dr. Gerry Gallimore, a former Vice Chairman of the convention in Kingston, Jamaica, was asked to lead the steering committee. Dr. David Corbin, a former convention pioneer in his homeland Trinidad & Tobago, was asked to serve as Secretary. Interestingly, before migrating to the United States, both gentlemen had served together on the Keswick Convention committee in Kingston, Jamaica. Today, some fifteen ministers share in the leadership of South Florida Keswick.
Keswick has had a rich history of vintage preachers. South Florida Keswick has attempted to maintain that tradition. Here is a breakdown of the speakers who have ministered since we launched:
2002 Dr. Burchell Taylor – Kingston, Jamaica
2003 Dr. David Larsen – Illinois, USA
2004 Dr. Clinton Chisholm – Florida, USA
Dr. Alford Alfonse – Florida, USA
Dr. Gerry Gallimore – Florida, USA
2005 Dr. Al Whittinghill – Georgia, USA
2006 Rev. Haynesley Griffith – Bridgetown, Barbados
2007 Dr. Rex Major – Nassau, Bahamas
2008 Dr. Sam Vassell – New York, USA
2009 Dr. Raymond Chinv – Chicago, USA
2010 Dr. Stephen Clark – Miami, USA
2011 Dr. Burchell Taylor – Kingston, Jamaica
The first convention met for one night at Sierra Norwood-Calvary Baptist Church in Miami. Because of the overwhelming interest, the second convention met for three nights. In 2007, the services were held for four nights from Wednesday to Sunday. Two other venues were used before the convention began to meet at Metropolitan Baptist Church from 2006.
Choral and congregational music have always played a critical role in Keswick. Although we have moved away from the traditional Keswick Hymnal, the focus of our music has not changed. Many persons look forward to singing our theme song nightly. Unlike other conventions, South Florida Keswick is blessed with a 100-voice choir. Under the direction of Mrs. Sheila Miller, this group of dedicated musicians reminds us of the value of choral music in a culture of diverse musical styles.