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Methodists elect first woman president

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Methodist Church in Jamaica has elected Reverend Christine Gooden-Benguche as the next president of the Jamaica district, the first woman Minister in the local Methodist church to be titled bishop.

She brings much experience to the post, following on from her term of service as district secretary. The Rev Dr Wayneford McFarlane will now assume the role of district secretary.

The elections took place at the church's Annual Conference Representative Sessions held at the St John's Methodist Church, Humber Avenue, Montego Bay last week.

Two initiatives guided by outgoing President Rev Everald Galbraith were adopted at the conference. They are a strategic plan, 2018 to 2024, intended to guide the work of the church over the next six years; and a safeguarding policy, which includes procedures related to the protection of children and vulnerable adults while on church-owned property, including schools.

The strategic plan envisages “A Church Without Walls”, which focuses attention on, among other things, increasing growth of church membership through evangelism; ensuring an integrated christian education programme; achieving financial viability; enhancing the church's mission through the promotion of social justice and social outreach to vulnerable groups, with special focus on children; and branding and creating a Christian ethos in Methodist educational institutions. The implementation of this plan will begin in September 2018.

The safeguarding policy sets out guidelines for procedures to be followed where incidents of abuse may be alleged to have occurred, as well as for the training of personnel who work with these groups.

Earlier, on Sunday, January 28, 2018, over 4,000 Methodists from across the island gathered at the Montego Bay Convention Centre for divine worship and a service of thanksgiving marking the 202nd meeting of the Jamaica District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) and its 20th District Conference under the theme 'Co-Workers in God's Service: Together we are Stronger'. Ministers, lay delegates to the conference, and the wider membership of the church were joined by ministers of religion of other denominations, representatives of political and civil society groups of St James, and friends of the church.

This event also provided an opportunity for the Methodist Church to stand in solidarity with the people of St. James and for member to reaffirm their faith in God's power to restore and save in the face of adversity.

Bishop Reverend Everald Galbraith, presiding in his final year as president of the Jamaica Methodist District, reminded the congregants that they all serve one Lord and Saviour, with ONE mission — that of spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land and to reform the nation.

He prayed for peace for the entire island, and particularly the parish of St James, even as he stressed the divine evidence of God's continued presence with God's people in the parish, which has been experiencing increasing levels of crime and violence and was under a partial state of emergency.

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