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Prayers offered for Jamaica, South Africa

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013    

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — A moment of silence was recognised for the late Nelson Mandela, icon of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, during Sunday's staging of the Annual National Prayer Vigil in St Elizabeth.

The event, held under the theme "Justice, Unity, Peace and Healing", at the Sharon Baptist Church in Santa Cruz was hosted by the St Elizabeth Ministers Fraternal.

Reverend Dr Roy Henry, Chairman of the National Prayer Vigil Committee, explained that the vigil began more than two decades ago in response to the fight against crime and violence in Jamaica.

"Twenty-one years ago we had our first National Prayer Vigil at King's House under the distinguished patronage of former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke, occasioned by a cry of some Jamaicans who saw the need for divine intervention as crime and violence were creating havoc in the nation... since that we have had vigils across Jamaica," he said.

The National Prayer Vigil Committee Chairman, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and other speakers used the occasion to pray for Jamaica and South Africa.

"In addition to sending a letter to president (Jacob) Zuma of South Africa on Friday, I want to take this opportunity to publicly express our support, as we have always done, for the people of South Africa, who are mourning the loss of their legendary and loyal leader Mr Nelson Mandela," Sir Patrick said. "We offer our comfort for his family who deeply grieve his passing, (and) in tribute I say his life of faith and forgiveness is a model and inspiration for all people around the world, especially leaders," he said.

According to the governor general, some may question the wisdom of holding yet another prayer vigil for the nation when the problems and social ills have not abated.

He noted further that some cynically declare that these prayer vigils are ineffective and the time would be better spent working on solutions.

"I say to you let us not be daunted, let us not be diverted from our focus and our mission. We as leaders and citizens alike must acknowledge where we have failed and seek God's enabling to lead and live in accordance with his will; and the church must be the examples for justice, unity, peace, and healing," he said, adding that these prayer vigils are necessary.

Mayor of Black River Everton Fisher said he does not fear being ridiculed for reiterating the view of National Security Minister Peter Bunting, which recently stirred controversy, that Jamaica is in need of "divine intervention".

Host pastor Jacob Powell said the group came to petition God for a "breakthrough" believing that what is wrong with Jamaica can be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.

"Since we are calling on our God, I believe that our best days are yet to come," he said.

North East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Raymond Pryce read a passage of scripture in the absence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller who in now in to attend the memorial service for Mandela.

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