A Virtuous Woman, served as Bishop, Faith Healing Temple for many years
Bishop Mother Mai Barclay Roberts, Pastor emeritus and Bishop of the Faith Healing Temple of Jesus Christ of Bushrod Island, Monrovia, has died.
This sad event occurred just past midnight on Monday, January 28, 2019 at her Congo Town residence in Monrovia. She was in her 98th year.
Born on October 21, 1921 to the union of Associate Justice Anthony Barclay and Mrs. Sarah Raynes of Sinoe County, Mai was among a number of young Liberian girls whose parents sent them to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where they attended the St. Joseph Catholic School in Freetown. These young Liberian girls included Mai’s sister, Ms. Elizabeth Barclay; Ms. Wilhelmina Bryant, who later married Mr. Dukuly and became Mother Dukuly, founder of the Faith Healing Temple of Jesus Christ; and Ms. Martha Sherman, daughter of Liberia’s first rubber tycoon, James (Jimmy) Francis Cooper. Martha later married Liberia’s first mining engineer, Arthur Sherman.
Following her return from Freetown, Mai was wedded to Mr. Charles B. Roberts, who later became a top official in the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, later a top official in the Department of Public Works and Utilities (now Ministry of Public Works).
Mr. Roberts later served as Personnel Manager and later Administrative Manager of LAMCO, the giant Liberian iron ore mining company of Yekepa, Nimba County of the 1960, 70s and 80s.
The union of Charles B. and Mai Roberts was blessed with several children and foster children, including Mrs. Ida Roberts Johansson, Juanita Roberts Ramirez, Charles B, Roberts, Jr., Wokie Mai Roberts Weah, Emelda Garwo, Hannah Daniels, Martha Campbell, Sandy Roberts, Fatima Roberts and many others.
Following her marriage, Mrs. Mai Roberts was sent to New York, United States of America, to study Beauty Culture. On her return she started her own beauty salon and was later appointed by President W.V.S. Tubman as Director of Beauty Culture Schools under the Department of Public Instruction (now Ministry of Education). This program spread to the then existing five counties of the Republic—Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Maryland and Grand Cape Mount.
Mrs. Mai Roberts later established a successful family-owned ice cream business named “Nimba Frost,” supplying delicious homemade ice cream to supermarkets and local vendors. Nimba Frost soon became well-known for its African flavored ice cream made from sour sop juices.
Mrs. Mai Roberts commenced her pursuit of spiritual leadership in 1971 when she joined her St. Joseph schoolmate, Mother Wilhelmina Dukuly, at the Faith Healing Temple of Jesus Christ. She became a full-fledged member in 1973 and in 1975 was ordained a Minister of the Gospel.
In 1975 Mother Roberts became Assistant Pastor at FHT and in 1986 she succeeded Rev. Mother Dukuly as Pastor and Spiritual Leader of the church. On October 29, 2006, just after her 85th birthday, Mother Roberts was elevated to the position of bishop, becoming the first female bishop in the Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, a group of churches established in 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, with which the Faith Healing Temple is affiliated.
During her over three decades of ministry, Mother Roberts’ message to the congregation and to the nation has remained consistent: “Jesus heals; Jesus cares; Jesus saves; and God loves you.”
Several months before the Liberian civil conflict started, Mother Roberts was directed by God to leave her Congo Town home and move to the church’s compound in Bushrod Island. When the fighting erupted, Mother Roberts refused to leave Liberia, as so many others were doing. Despite the advice of so many, including her children, to leave Liberia, Mother Roberts insisted on obeying God’s instructions that her place was with the people. The FHT became a place of refuge during the horrific civil war for hundreds of men, women and children. Everyone who came was welcome, regardless of tribal, ethnic, political or religious background. Mother Roberts provided spiritual leadership and guidance during this trying period.
The Liberian nation mourns this virtuous nonagenarian and national spiritual leader.
She leaves to mourn her loss several children, grandchildren, great grand and great, great grandchildren. Many who are part of the Liberian Diaspora, including nine grandchildren of Swedish nationality, are planning to come home for the final rites.
According to daughter Juanita Ramirez and son, Charles B. Roberts, Jr., funeral arrangements will be announced later.