Tribute to the late Chancellor and Dean – Pastor Parnel Randolph Campbell
by: the Spiritual Baptist
Archdiocesan Council of SVG
The late Chancellor and Dean, Pastor Parnel Randolph Campbell (PR, as he was affectionately called) had lived a life that touched the world and each of us in our own way. He lived a life in a class beyond compare, undeniably gifted and radical in his approach. His ubiquitous influence was felt by everyone in his family, in the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese and the country at large. He was a distinguished statesman who had graced or brought dignity to every prominent platform in this country and beyond. Chief among them is the one and only “The Law and You” – a Public Service Programme established and presented by PR Campbell himself.
Touched by his grandmother
Despite the fact that he was such an honored statesman, he was humble enough to eat roasted breadfruit and salt fish bouljoul from the poorest of persons with whom he had come into contact. We gave thanks to God for this great man who started his early life moving around praise houses with his grandmother and peeking into the inner chambers of the praise houses. Parnel said that he loved to hear the echoing of voices, the mourning sounds, the groaning and the chanting coming from the inner chambers of the praise houses and their songs of jubilation were engrafted deep into his heart.
Certainly, his Spiritual Baptist grandmother had left her fingerprint upon him and it could not be erased, not even by Academia of the highest level which he later attained. Prior to him becoming a committed Christian, in 1987, his first priority as the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Information and Ecclesiastical Affairs was to ensure that every Religious Denomination or pedigree in this country including the Spiritual Baptist Faith was given the opportunity to have their services broadcast on Sunday mornings, with a repeat broadcast in the evening on Radio 705.
Spiritual Baptists included
He was the first Government Official to recognize the Spiritual Baptist Faith and gave them an opportunity to offer a prayer at Government official ceremonies. PR also assisted many Spiritual Baptists in building roads to their Churches and Praise Houses and also in renovating many of the Praise Houses. During this time, he forged a close bond with the late Mother Catherine Myers who headed the St Malachi Spiritual Baptist church at Redemption Sharpes.
PR Campbell meant so many things to so many different people and despite the demands on his life he remained strong, faithful, jovial, congenial, steadfast and unmoving. He functioned with an attitude of gratitude, finesse, consistency, generosity and clarity until his death. He is no longer here! His soul has risen to be in the presence of the Lord. The Apostle Paul confirmed, that “To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord.”
A heart attack forced him to listen
The late PR Campbell like many of us heard many voices which proposed to him many ways of living and he pursued life without a commitment to Christ for a while, until he was forced to listen to the voice of God’s call upon his life. May 1993, in the midst of his affluence and accolades, he suffered a heart attack which resulted in his hospitalization at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados. And this experience changed the whole trajectory of his life. He said that while he was lying on the hospital bed, the Holy Spirit visited him and led him in the Spirit to the Sons of God Spiritual Baptist church in Barbados. When he came to himself, he asked for permission from the management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to go the Sons of God Spiritual Baptist Church which was headed by the late Archbishop and Patriarch Granville Williams. Permission was granted along with a medical entourage to accompany him, in the event that he would collapse. The Sons of God Spiritual Baptist Church had a procession on the day P.R Campbell made his visit and he marched with them in the procession which lasted about 6 hours. Considering that he was diagnosed with a heart attack and endured that rigorous activity, tell us that something miraculous had happened. PR Campbell completed the march without collapsing or any other mishap and pronounced publicly that he was healed at the end of the march. He then went back to the Hospital with his team of medical personnel and later, his testimony of healing was confirmed when he was discharged with a clean bill of health and he returned home. In August 1993, three months later, he returned to Barbados; having accepted the call of God on his life to the Spiritual Baptist Faith; he baptized and mourned at the Sons of God Spiritual Baptist church.
Admitted to the Faith
He returned home a few weeks later and wrote to the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese (which was under the leadership of our present Archbishop’s father – the late Patriarch Cosmore Pompey) for admission to the Faith. He was accepted and he worshipped at the St Elizabeth Spiritual Baptist Cathedral, Belmont, under the leadership of the late Archbishop and Patriarch, His Excellency Edmund John. He served under his leadership for 26 years until Edmund’s death in 2018.
When PR Campbell became an official member of the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese, like the Apostle Paul, he was ridiculed and ostracized by his fellow Cabinet members of the James Mitchell Administration, his associates and the public at large. Some said that he had lost his mind, others said that he wanted personal and political mileage and still others accused him of wanting to be head of the Spiritual Baptist Faith. These criticisms were meant to pose a real challenge to his faith but instead of becoming discouraged, he completely submitted himself to the will of God for his life and shone with glowing confidence during this satanic assault. His polished consistency during this period was equivalent to greatness. He became even more committed to God and the Spiritual Baptist Faith. Not even the much talked about love story between Parnel and his beauty queen Juliette could have changed his mind from the Spiritual Baptist Faith.
Worked hard to gain trust
PR Campbell was appointed Chancellor of the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese soon after he became a member in 1993 and worked even harder to gain the love and trust of the Spiritual Baptist people. He moved with compassion and generosity towards them and towards the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese and succeeded in gaining their love and trust. None apparently perceived this strategy more clearly than the late Patriarch, His Excellency Edmund John, who would commend the Chancellor quite frequently on his generosity, faithfulness and goodness towards him, the church and the Archdiocese.
In organizing for official functions, Chancellor PR Campbell was always the first person on spot, re-arranging chairs and putting everything in a very meticulous and very detailed order. His generosity extended even to his office, which he had always made available to us for meetings, for typing and printing materials. He was always ready to assist Spiritual Baptists in every way he could. No task was too difficult or too menial for him to do and he was always ready to make his contribution. His burning desire to forge unity among all sectors of the Spiritual Baptist Faith here in SVG is yet to be realized. Many of his efforts proved futile, however, he was able to bring the sectors together in celebrating National Spiritual Baptist Day.
On June 9, 2002, the late PR Campbell was ordained as a Pastor in the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese with responsibility to the St Elizabeth Spiritual Baptist’s Cathedral. In 2018, after the death of his Excellency Patriarch Edmund John, Chancellor Pastor PR Campbell was appointed the Senior Pastor to head the St. Elizabeth Spiritual Baptist Cathedral at Belmont and in 2019, he was appointed Dean of the said Cathedral. And he held those positions until his death.
He revived the Archdiocese
Our late Chancellor and Dean Pastor Parnel Campbell was one of the pillars who revived the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese bringing recognition and lifting its status as a force to be reckoned with in religious and secular circles. As Chancellor and Dean, Pastor Parnel Campbell sat on all of the Spiritual Baptist Executive Boards and his legacy will remain with us. Our Chancellor cannot be gone, No! The truth of the matter is – he lives on in our hearts, each time we skillfully handle a situation or an interview or to plan and organize ceremonial activities or at the meetings of the Executive Boards and he lives on in us today. You can’t see him but he is here, still organizing to the very details. Our Chancellor and Dean was indeed an invaluable member of the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese and is greatly missed.
To our dear Campbell family, especially his wife Bishop Juliette Campbell and children, friends and all who are mourning his death, we pronounce grace and peace upon you through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in your hour of bereavement.
May the protection that he covered you with for all of your lives remain strong and resolute. Parnel will continue to live on in his wife, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, even up to the fifth generation and beyond. His memories would resonate in the hearts of those who love him and those whose lives he had touched in some way or the other. We pray that one day, like him, we will all receive our reward of eternal life and unite with him in that building of God, eternal in the heaven, where he is safely housed. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints. May his soul R.I.P.