PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) The Most Rev Donald Reece has urged various social groups in Kingston to examine their personal lives before focusing on the infrastructural needs of the capital city.
Reece, the archbishop of Kingston — who delivered the sermon at Sunday's Service of Thanksgiving for the 140th Anniversary of the City of Kingston and the Achievements of the London 2012 Olympians and Paralympians — said it was crucial for Jamaicans to cut ties with sin if national development is their goal.
"I should like to extend the underbelly of our development by suggesting that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God... All of us are in breach of what is expected of us," Reece told the congregation inside the East Queen Street Baptist Church.
"Spouses are unfaithful to their vows, parents are negligent in their responsibilities... politicians too quickly forget their campaign promises to their constituencies, those in the legal profession are not as diligent as they ought to be in executing justice expeditiously, law enforcement officers give reason for people to fear than trust them, business men and women are more interested in profit than in the well-being of people... and church leaders are not consistently faithful in proclaiming the path of justice and righteousness," he continued.
"There must be repentance and a turning away from their sinful ways before any meaningful restoration can take place. There is a call for an interior transformation before there can be any external, structural restoration. This, I propose, is the paradigm that we, as a nation and as a city must embrace in order that the desired lasting restoration can be realised," he said in obvious reference to the Government's proposed restoration of downtown Kingston.
Reece's criticisms took on added significance as his audience included parliamentarians, members of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, Jamaica's 2012 Olympians and Paralympians, their coaches, managers and fans.
All, especially his fellow churchmen, nodded in agreement with his remarks. The congregation also supported Reece's call for Jamaicans to emulate the world-class qualities of our Olympians and Paralympians.
"The nation — and particularly the city of Kingston on this its 140th anniversary — salutes our athletes not only for the victories won, but also for the example they portrayed for our men, women, and children in terms of unrelenting discipline, steel-like steadfastness, dogged determination...," he said.
"Without these qualities, in no way could they have mined the gold, reaped the silver, and brought glory to Jamaica. We Jamaicans are too indisciplined," he argued.
Among those who offered messages at Sunday's service were Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller; member of parliament Olivia Grange, who represented Opposition Leader Andrew Holness; and Steadman Fuller, custos rotulorum of Kingston.
Member of parliament Natalie Neita Headly awed the congregation with a beautifully sung medley.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller, in her address, said the gathering was evidence of Jamaica's strength. She gave God thanks for the blessings bestowed on Kingston over its 140 years, and described the capital as the "place for new beginning and hope for the future".
She also commended the exploits of the athletes who, she said, not only made Jamaica a brand but also "the pride of the people", both locally and internationally.
At the end of the service, dozens of residents, particularly children, stormed the churchyard for pictures with their favourite athletes. Simpson Miller at one point ventured across East Queen Street — with journalists and protective service cops close in tow — to greet residents of nearby communities.