MORE than 3,000 of the nation's church leaders yesterday gathered at designated zones throughout the island to repent and pray for the nation and themselves, as they prepare for a massive all-day prayer session planned for September 26.
The pastors — who represent the six umbrella church groups in the island — met in Kingston, Manchester, St Ann, St Mary and St James to pray for healing, repentance and renewal for the country, as part of their recently launched 'Rebirthing Jamaica Programme'. The programme is expected to see the church uniting more to address issues of crime and violence, immorality and the deterioration of the family structure in the country.
The umbrella church group includes the Jamaica Council of Churches, the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, the Pentecostal Union, the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals and the Church of God in Jamaica, which together represents approximately 96 per cent of the Christian community in Jamaica.
President of The Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, Bishop Rohan Edwards told the Observer that yesterday's meetings were extremely important as the pastors needed to repent of their sins and those of the nation for a change to take place.
"All of us have combined together; we are now one and we are taking on the nation," Edwards said. "One of the things that prompted it is the amount of killing that has taken place and also the whole matter of crime and violence that is taking over the country. We figure that no way are we going to sit down and just watch the evil that is taking place," the pastor added.
Church leaders had high praises for the prayer sessions, which they believe is a great prelude to the change they expect to take place as they work together for the betterment of the country.
"We had met to first of all put the spotlight upon ourselves and see where we have been culpable and (to) understand that we ourselves need that transformation, that renewal, that healing," said president of the Jamaica Council of Churches Rev, Paul Gardner.
Head of the Church of God in Jamaica, Rev Lenworth Anglin was also satisfied with yesterday's meetings.
"It exceeded our expectations, especially when one consider that it was replicated throughout the island," he said.
Meanwhile, the umbrella church groups are pressing ahead with plans to host a national day of prayer in designated areas across the country next week Sunday. The meetings will be held in the Half-Way-Tree Squre; Edgewater round-a-bout in Portmore, St Catherine; Sam Sharpe Square in St James; Morant Bay, St Thomas; Mandeville, Manchester; May Pen, Clarendon; and Falmouth, Trelawny.
Edwards said the churches have already secured the permission of the National Solid Waste Management Authority and the respective parish councils.
The groups said they intend to distribute more than 100,000 bumper stickers and will be meeting with both secular and gospel musicians ahead of next Sunday's prayer meeting.