Church challenged to help transform nation

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen has challenged the Church to play a more integral, leading and proactive role in transforming Jamaica.

“The Church has to lead in the binding up of the wounds of this nation, that sometimes seems battered, fainting and helpless and ready to die,” Sir Allen said while speaking at the National Emancipation/Independence Thanksgiving Service at the East Queen Street Baptist Church in downtown Kingston last Sunday.

Allen said while Jamaica, as an independent nation, is not subject to the dictates of others outside of its jurisdiction, “we continue to be enslaved in many ways”.

“Low levels of education and training, especially in advanced skills areas, prevent us from fully diversifying our economic base,” Allen said. “In many ways, we can still see ourselves as being in mental slavery. We are still shackled by intolerance, lack of respect, distrust for each other, breakdown in family life, neglect and abuse of our children.”

Noting that Jamaica continues to struggle with divisiveness, Allen said many Jamaicans feel excluded from opportunities for educational advancement and called on the Church to become more involved in rescuing the nation.

“The Church has to give that which is infinitely more superior. (It) has to give itself as a sacrifice in service for the salvation of the nation. The Church was at the forefront of the struggle for freedom from physical bondage and slavery.

“The Church must, again, stand in the forefront and give leadership in the struggle against moral, mental, emotional and economic bondage,” Allen said. “The Church has the moral and spiritual authority. Do not drop the ball, otherwise we may all perish.”

During her address, Youth, Sports, and Culture Minister Olivia Grange said the theme for the service and this year’s Emancipation/Independence celebrations – “I Believe in Jamaica” – should not be considered mere words, but rather “our creed”.

“Our culture is built upon the belief that we can overcome great odds. That we can use minimal resources and create remarkable things. Strengthened by this philosophy and God’s blessing and guidance, we know that Jamaica cannot recede. I urge all Jamaicans to continue striving for greatness. We are a great people with a great culture, an identity, a history and a future worth believing in,” Grange said.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding read the first scripture lesson from Deuteronomy 6:10-19. Opposition Leader Portia Simpson-Miller read the second from Galatians 5:1-14. The service featured musical selections and renditions from the East Queen Street Baptist, Church, renowned teen singer Ana Strachan and several high school choirs. (JIS) 

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