Western Jamaica churches vow to up support in 2014
Better days ahead
MONTEGO BAY, St James — CHURCH leaders across western Jamaica have vowed to provide more financial and moral support to the needy as they convert persons to Christianity during what is expected to be a very challenging year ahead.
"The current economic crisis presents an opportunity to the church community to be more faithful to its prophetic mandate and compassion ministry," said Rev Everton Jackson, Pastor, Calvary Circuit of Baptist Churches.
He said the Baptist churches will continue to do everything possible to assist in alleviating the sufferings of the disadvantaged and inspire hope in the hopeless.
"Among the ministries that will be undertaken by the Baptist churches in western Jamaica are advocacy on the behalf of the voiceless, provision of educational and health assistance, moral education through youth and children ministries, as well as pulpit ministry, welfare assistance to the less fortunate, educational empowerment and life skills training through educational evening institutes, feeding programmes for street and homeless people and public forums," he told the Jamaica Observer West.
The focus of the Baptist churches during this year, he stressed, will continue to be in sync with the message of hope, to divert people from suicidal adventurism, pessimism, disillusionment and apathy.
A number of financial analysts have predicted that 2014 will be another challenging year for the country, arguing that there will be little or no growth in the economy during the first six months of the year.
It is also expected that the Government will impose additional taxes to make up for reported tax revenue shortfall of more than J$8 billion.
Pastor of the Montego Bay-based Acts of the Holy Spirit Ministries International, formerly Sold Out Ministries, Dorrett Blake, said her church, this year, plans to expand its ongoing outreach programmes in several inner-city communities.
"We intend to extend the work to other communities through counselling, the ministry of the Word and placing individuals in areas where their lives have worth and meaning," she told the Observer West.
Over the past few years Holy Spirit Ministries has been working assiduously in communities such as Canterbury, Gully and King Street. The Ministry also has a Street Church which caters to the homeless, abandoned and neglected in society.
According to Pastor Blake, the consistency of working with hundreds of persons during the past year has brought about some kind of cohesion among individuals and self-worth.
"We have seen individuals involved in drug trafficking, scamming and other criminal activities make serious efforts to discard these destructive lifestyles," she emphasised.
She added that plans are afoot to expand the outreach programme in several other communities in Montego Bay during the course of this year, noting that her ministry has been working in the prisons, schools and hospitals over the years.
For Knollis King Snr, the Pastor of the United Full Gospel Church of God located in the inner-city community of Rose Heights, the main focus this year will be to maintain the existing peace in the community; to convert persons to Christianity and to expand a feeding programme, called God's Kitchen, for residents in the area.
Under the God's Kitchen initiative, Pastor King said, more than 60 students receive breakfast free of cost, while adults are able to purchase meals at a minimal cost.
"This year we also plan to have more street meetings and house to house sessions during the year," said Pastor King, who is also the councillor for the Rose Heights area.
Rose Heights is one of 17 inner-city communities in St James which have distinguished themselves as hotbeds for shootings, robberies and other crimes.
But with the intervention of Pastor King in recent years, some level of calm has returned to the community.
Meanwhile, Pastor of the Falmouth Seventh-day Adventist Church, Garth Geddes, pointed out that "one of the roles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to assist individuals to find their moral compass within the context of how they conduct their lives with God.
"But we also exist to assist with any physical way we can, whether it may be community outreach, health or even the disbursement of funds," he added.
He noted that his church currently has a feeding programme for visitors and members who worship there on the Sabbath.
And Garfield Edwards, Spiritual leader of Mystic Holiness Church of Christ in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, said he will continue to assist members of the impoverished Russia community.
"The last programme I have embarked on is the elimination of the zinc fence in the community and I will continue with that programme this year, as long as the finances are available," said Edwards.