By Michelle Green | SBC Communication; Henry R. Moncur III | ACTU Communication
Elizabeth Fountain Moses, a former worker of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in the South Bahamas and the oldest living member in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Atlantic Caribbean region, passed away on June 22, 2023. Affectionately known as Sister Betty, she was among those celebrated in The Bahamas for becoming centenarians in their lifetime. She was 104.
Moses was the eldest of three children born to William and Olive Antonio. Her life was a historical scroll that showed the positive effects of Adventism in The Bahamas.
Her grandfather, William Charles Antonio, was the first Bahamian to accept the Seventh-day Adventist beliefs in The Bahamas. According to Moses, her grandfather, then a Sunday School teacher in Zion Baptist Church, began his studies with a colporteur named Charles Parmele, using two books – Bible Readings for the Home and The Desire of Ages written by Ellen G. White. “My grandfather read these books, and Mr. Parmele, on subsequent visits, would answer his questions,” she said during an interview for national television. “He eventually found out that the doctrine of the SDA church was correct and was baptized.”
After her father and mother were baptized, the family home became the meeting place for Sabbath School studies. Moses and her family also began worshipping at the Shirley Street Seventh-day Adventist Church, the first church established in The Bahamas for the denomination. “When Phil and I were little, daddy had a carriage come every sabbath morning and picked mommy and the two of us up, and then we went to pick up our grandmother… and then we clipped-clopped in the horse and carriage to Shirley Street,” Moses shared during an interview in 2019.
Her spiritual life reflected the strong beliefs passed on to her since childhood. During her lifetime, she had many fond memories of the church as a child. One such example is a photo of her and her brother, Philip, holding church ribbons. “We are showing the ribbons that we received as a reward for reciting 52 memory texts, one for each Sabbath of the year,” she said in an interview celebrating her 100th birthday in 2019.
Moses was a product of Adventist education. She was one of the first batch of students enrolled at Bahamas Academy which was housed in the basement of the Shirley Street SDA Church before the school was moved to a one-room building erected on Hawkins Hill to accommodate the growing enrollment. The Academy is now one of the top-tier educational institutions in the country.
In 1954, Elizabeth was employed by the Bahamas Mission of Seventh-day Adventists located at that time on Shirley Street. She worked at first in the Book and Bible House, now known as the Adventist Book and Nutrition Center (ABNC). When the Bible lessons that were sent out by mail from the Bahamas Mission came on stream, she assisted in that area as well as in the ABNC.
When Dr. Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the Inter-American Division (IAD), was president of the Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Sis. Betty Moses was invited to serve as a receptionist at the new office headquarters, which was now located on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, where she retired in 2008 at the age of 89. In reflecting on Moses, Dr. Johnson fondly remembered her service as being truly representative of Christ. “She brought a sense of order and professionalism, sprinkled with Christian poise and charm,” he stated.
Pastor Peter Kerr, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), expressed that Moses was one of his favorite people and a very precious treasure to the Adventist church. “Her long journey of faith in Christ as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church here in The Bahamas has made her a legend. During her 104-year lifetime, she proved to be a lady of noble and honorable character; a humble, gracious, and purposeful individual; and a spiritual giant,” he said. “We will always miss her; but we thank God that hers was a life well lived to the fullest,” Kerr stated.
Elizabeth followed in her father’s footsteps by serving her Adventist community. William W. Antonio became a part-time Bible worker in the country and was also among the first Bahamians to serve on the executive committee of the Bahamas Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.
Aside from working tirelessly with the Conference, Elizabeth loved her church and demonstrated this by being an active member. At the Shirley Street Church, she served as Sabbath School teacher, member of the church choir, leader of the Missionary Volunteer Society (now Adventist Youth Society) and unit leader of the Pathfinder Club. When the Johnson Park Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1963, following an evangelistic outreach series conducted by Pastor Silas McKinney and Pastor Leslie McMillan in which 99 persons were baptized, Moses transferred her membership from the Shirley Street Church to the Johnson Park Church. There, she served as Sabbath School teacher, Sabbath School superintendent, deaconess, church treasurer, and church clerk. She also sang in the choir with her lovely alto voice. An avid lover of young people, Moses continued her service as an active Master Guide in Adventist Youth Ministries.
A very sociable individual, Moses often used her time after retirement to visit and call her fellow church members in hospital or at home to encourage them and offer inspirational words of comfort and wisdom.
Sis. Betty believed in the importance of family. She was the mother of an only child named Ian Antonio and was married to Alfred Moses, both of whom predeceased her.
One of the featured highlights of Elizabeth’s life was the honour she received in 2022 when the Inter-American Division recognized her as one of the centenarians in The Bahamas during the IAD’s centennial anniversary celebrations.
Moses lived by the motto “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God” Micah 6:8. Her prayer was that “when Jesus returns, we each will be fit vessels for God’s Kingdom.”
With a membership of 27,352, ATCU, which is headquartered in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas, comprises four fields, namely, the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference. In addition, Northern Caribbean University, which is in Mandeville, Jamaica, is jointly owned and operated by ATCU and the Jamaica Union.