35 years of holistic ministry and community impact
CELEBRATING 35 years of service, St John’s Green Acres Church of the Nazarene (GACOTN) in St Catherine stands as a beacon of hope and transformation within its community.
With a mission centred on people and their spiritual destinies, and a vision to cultivate Christ-like discipleship through missional work, GACOTN has carved a unique path of holistic growth and community engagement.
GACOTN forms part of the 30 Nazarene churches that make up the Jamaica East and West Districts of Nazarene Churches governed by the Church of the Nazarene, a protestant denomination stemming from the 19th-century Holiness movement.
Reverend Valin Smith, who has been at the helm of GACOTN leadership since December 2009, told the Jamaica Observer that for him, the greatest achievement in the church’s 35-year journey has been the significant involvement of its members in missionary work beyond Jamaica, aligning with their mission and vision.
“Brother Carlos Gordon’s remarkable service as the first Jamaican missionary, holding the esteemed position of regional finance coordinator in Africa, stands as a testament to the church’s global impact. Notably, Sisters Dawn Smith and Carrol Douglas participated in missional activity in Abuca, Bahamas, alongside previous engagements in missionary activities in the United States,” Smith said.
He added that addressing the needs of its community also remains a pivotal focus for GACOTN.
“The church operates an early childhood institution, conducts annual back-to-school distributions, and administers the Brown’s Scholarship Fund, supporting education at all levels.
“The church actively engages in community outreach, offering vital services like medical checks, counselling, career guidance, and legal advice. The Compassionate Ministry’s grocery distribution and free counselling further underline our commitment to holistic support,” he said.
Acknowledging the church’s role and impact, Reverend Smith also accepts that more can be done, especially with regards to marginalised groups.
“While efforts have been made, the church realises the importance of stepping beyond the traditional four walls and reaching out actively to the marginalised and those in need, echoing the spirit of the early church. Regarding marginalised groups, GACOTN maintains a stance rooted in biblical teachings while extending love and support to individuals irrespective of their backgrounds. Efforts are made to provide spiritual care and assistance, fostering transformation and reintegration into society,” he said.
The church marked its 35th anniversary with various events, including community outreach, an anniversary service, recognition of long-serving members, and a fun day celebration. Looking ahead, Smith said GACOTN envisions exponential growth, potentially birthing new churches, while the Church of the Nazarene aims to amplify its presence and impact across Jamaica, championing holiness, education, and deeper community engagement.
He said: “As the Green Acres COTN continues its journey, its unwavering commitment to holistic ministry and community welfare remains at the forefront, promising a future where spiritual growth and societal impact go hand in hand.”