LONDON, England — Rev Dr Joel Edwards of the World Evangelical Alliance says Jamaica at 50 has important choices to make that will have implications for the future, and will have an "impact on our children and our children's children".
"Our choices must touch the issue of private and public lives or probity and politics. In the brave new world of the 21st century we have tough, contemporary, moral choices to make; choices about human rights and our constitutional relationship with the rest of the Commonwealth, our economy, the education of our children, and our crime rate," he said.
Rev Edwards was delivering the sermon at the official service of praise and thanksgiving in the United Kingdom, held on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence. The service was held at the historic Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, London, with more than 2,000 persons in attendance.
He told the large congregation that at 50, it was still possible to be proud of one's past and yet pensive about the future. "Here we stand [as] ex-slaves with a lot going for us and still experimenting with the responsibilities of freedom. Jamaica, land we love, overflows with giftedness and great people. We have opened our hands to bless the world in art, music, sports, politics and business," Rev Edwards said.
However, he argued that the country, with all its possibilities and potential, is an unfinished symphony, and is now in a better position to make better choices about the future.
"At 50, we are better positioned to make better choices about a better future. What is needed is greater collaboration from our politicians, spiritual leaders and businesses, which will demonstrate that we can work harmoniously together, because we have come of age," Rev Edwards said.
A special feature of the service was a short video showing Jamaica's journey towards Independence in 1962. This was followed by the presentation of the Jamaican flag by Corporal Paul Johnson of the Jamaica Defence Force (UK), who is in London studying at the Royal Military School of Music.
Fifty children of Jamaican heritage from across the United Kingdom, representing the 50 years of Independence, recited the poem Ballad of 65 by Alma Norman, about the Morant Bay Rebellion, and the National Pledge, much to the delight of the congregation.