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[ iii ] Alexander Bedward (1859–1930), of August Town, Jamaica, is significant both for his role as a charismatic R evivalist leader and for his influence throughout Central America and Cuba, as well as Jamaica. He was originally a member of the Jamaican Native Baptist Church, which had a tradition of visions and prophecies. Such visions gave spiritual guidance as to practical behaviour, while prophecies reinterpreted the B ible as well as making personal and policy statements. Within the JNB Church he became a famous preacher and spiritual healer, and his Bedward Church incorporated these features. In 1895 he was arrested for sedition following his prediction that ‘the black wall shall crush the white wall’, but was soon released. In December 1920 a large crowd gathered at Mona, near Kingston, where he announced that he would fly to heaven. ‘Flying’ was a characteristic of Revival and Bedward churches, enabling people to spring swiftly from place to place. His ascension failed to materialize, and he was committed to a mental hospital. His followers were not disheartened, and many of them remained loyal to their notion of B ack to africa. Africa and Zion thus became closely associated in similar messianic cults. Bedward's movement drew on both M yalism and revivalism. The cult that he left behind has become far less dramatically A pocalyptic , and its worship style far less ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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