Trinidad on Steel

COSTOSIn 2013, the World Mission Council invited the Church of Scotland Trinidad’s Steel Band, known as COSTOS to play at the General Assembly, Heart and Soul, and Holyrood Palace. Many people will remember their invigorating performances, brimming with energy and complete with a catchy calypso beat, which you couldn’t help but move to!

For many people, the fact that there is a Church of Scotland charge in Trinidad will come as a surprise. Now part of the Presbytery of Europe, there has been a Church of Scotland presence in Trinidad since 1836 when Rev Alexander Kennedy began a mission to the newly emancipated slave people, opening Greyfriars Church in 1838. The Greyfriars congregation currently worships with the St Ann’s Church of Scotland congregation, and together with Barrow Memorial and also San Grande Congregation they make up one Church of Scotland charge.

COSTOS, which came to play for the General Assembly and delighted audiences in 2013, is an integral part of the Church of Scotland in Trinidad’s mission outreach. It brings together young people, often from difficult backgrounds, to play music in the church and be in fellowship with one another. Not only does it provide the young people with the opportunity to be involved in the church, but it enriches worship services.

Despite being a Church of Scotland charge, participation in worship by the Steel Band maintains the Trinidadian identity of the church and harks back to its history as a mission to emancipated slaves. Drumming and calypso are deeply rooted in the history of the African slaves in Trinidad and Tobago. The steelpan, itself the national instrument, was developed in response to continuous attempts to ban African percussion instruments in the late 1880s, which were used to celebrate canboulays (a parallel celebration to the carnival, which was held exclusively for the landowners).

COSTOS – the Church of Scotland on Steel, is a vibrant group that is fresh and relevant, but also pays tribute to the rich history of the Church of Scotland in Trinidad and the Trinidadian people.