MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Governor General of Jamaica Sir Patrick Allen hailed Pastor Kenneth Vaz as a learned and humble servant of God during a service of thanksgiving for the life of the late former president of West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University (NCU) held at the University's Gymnatorium in Mandeville on Thursday, April 11.
Allen said while he was being interviewed for ordination to serve the Adventist Church as a pastor he was asked to identify the pastor whose life and work epitomised a model pastor.
"I did not hesitate to reference our Lord, and then I named this learned and humble servant of God and preacher of righteousness as the pastor that had made a deep and lasting impression on me: Kenneth G Vaz," he said.
The former Adventist Church leader also described Vaz as a stalwart of the church, community and nation.
"Pastor Vaz served as one of the first Adventist Justices of the Peace (1981) in Jamaica and specifically for the parish of Manchester. His service inspired other pastors to become JPs," he said. "The award-winning Profile on TVJ for 26 years, is one of those programmes which seek to showcase Jamaican achievers and inspire our people to defy the odds and strive for excellence. Pastor Vaz was one of the persons interviewed by Ian Boyne so that his life and accomplishments would serve as motivation for other Jamaicans."
Vaz was also recognised by the Government of Jamaica in 1980 when he was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) for his service to Religion, Education and Community Service.
A collection of his work is to be established.
In his tribute to the late former university president, current president Dr Trevor Gardner described Pastor Vaz as one of the brightest minds to have passed through the hallowed halls of the university.
According to Gardner, something significant must be done to safeguard and share his works.
"With the permission of the family, we would like to establish a KG Vaz collection, where we would continue building a collection of theological works that reflects his philosophy and academic interest. This we would open to interested parties to purchase even one book each year or contribute funds to continue the development of the collection."
Vaz did numerous research papers and commentaries and wrote two books, titled Christ the Theantrophic Person and The Rest that Remains.
He also did extensive work on an untitled book, which speaks to the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica and its impact on nation-building. There are also cassettes, compact discs, audio-visual material and hand-written sermons.
In his 45 years of service to God and the Adventist church in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands, Vaz served as district pastor, evangelist, lecturer, college dean, union director and administrator.
He also served as president of West Indies College from 1964 to 1970 and as executive secretary of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
'KG', as he was affectionately called, was born in Cave, Westmoreland on January 18, 1919 and passed away on April 1 this year. His illustrious career was described in various ways by those who gave tribute to him at the service.
Pastor Leon Wellington, vice-president of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, hailed him as "a mentor, pulpiteer extraordinaire, scholar, a leader with integrity and class," while president of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists said Vaz "carried out his responsibilities with passion and pride, and was never satisfied with mediocrity. Excellence was his watchword".
He was also portrayed as an inspirational leader and administrator extraordinaire by Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.
The homily was given by Pastor Vaz's long-time friend and former president of WIU, Pastor Noel Fraser.
Pastor Vaz is survived by his four children Arlene, Duncan, Kenneth and Joan, and other relatives. His body was interred in the Oaklawn Memorial Gardens beside his wife Agnes, who predeceased him in 2004.