Church on the Rock growing spirits, building livesSunday, June 16, 2013
BY NADINE WILSON Sunday Observer reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE wise man builds on a rock when he wants to guarantee a solid foundation, and this epitomises exactly what the Church on the Rock in Kingston has been for the communities that it serves. People from far and wide have come to depend on the church not only for their spiritual growth, but also for social interventions.
Although it can prove quite a struggle for a first-timer on foot to reach the church on top of the hill, what awaits those who brave this mild setback is a temple bursting with talent and spiritually charged. The situation was no different during last week Sunday morning's worship service which was kick-started by a small group of young, vibrant singers leading the church into a period of praise and worship.
The congregants unabashedly raised their hands in surrender during the worship service, but no one could dare credit this move to the arresting presence of the police personnel who were out in their numbers to help launch the National Police Youth Club week at the church. They too were convicted, and yielded when senior pastor Franz Fletcher asked everyone to offer worship as the sacrifice of praise.
Although there was news two days before that the Jamaican dollar had been further devalued, Fletcher reminded everyone that praise was the currency of heaven, and this further ignited individuals to pay back in full, by singing songs of adoration and making declarations of thanksgiving to God. Those who felt restricted ran through aisles, some danced, while others, fuelled by the singing, bowed forward in prayer, during what Fletcher described as "a meeting with The Most High".
These regular "meetings with The Most High" can be credited for all of the church's achievements over the years. These achievements are many and include the successful establishment of several outreach ministries. Among those programmes, which continue to benefit church members and non-members alike are the Progressive Education Classes (PEC) and the open hands ministry.
"We recognised a long time ago that God designed this church, not only to put up a tent somewhere, but we must be involved in social intervention; that's one reason why we are here," Fletcher said.
Opal Clarke who is one of several pastors at the church, said that both ministries are aligned with the church's vision to give attention to the poor. This vision was conceptualised by founding pastor Apostle David Keene more than 28 years ago and was further strengthened by Fletcher when he took over the congregation after Keene fell ill.
Under the open hands ministry, those who are in need are given groceries and other items that can help to make life better for them. Most of those who benefit are from neighbouring communities such as Cassava Piece, and Whitehall Avenue, although the church generally transports persons from some West Kingston communities on Sundays to join in the worship service. These individuals benefit as well.
"Our ministry is not only by way of the distribution of food, but it encompasses counselling. We do a lot of counselling of our people. We really sit down and talk things over with them. We also have a boutique where we supply them with clothing and just different things. We really are about the whole man -- spiritual and body. We are a holistic ministry," Clarke said.
"The vision has grown and open hands in terms of the number of people when we attend to have grown and therefore we have to expand ourselves," she said.
The church also uses education as a means of empowering residents in the communities that it serves. Through the PEC project, residents receive teaching in literacy, numeracy, computing and reading. The classes are taught by volunteers who also assist children with their school projects and homework.
"The whole literacy aspect and remedial work programme span from grade five up to adults. We have all these classes that we could try to help children to improve themselves in a remedial way. Where they have been slow and finding difficulties, we help along; we help with CXC and that sort of thing too. Where people cannot afford extra lessons and are unable to go to school, they come to us and we assist them," Clarke said.
The church also operates a children's home, which offers a nurturing environment for girls who have passed through the court system. This home has been in operation for more than 18 years and works in collaboration with the courts and the Child Development Agency (CDA).
"There are a lot of safety requirements, health requirements, oversight requirements outlined by the CDA and so we have to conform to all of these things," stated David Madden, who is an elder at the church.
The church's concern for the welfare of children was further evident through the launch of its STAR summer day camp which hopes to bring 1,000 children between the age of 10 and 17 for five days of fellowship on the church's grounds in August.
"We need to do our part in helping to correct the negative shift in the mindset and realign the minds of our youths towards a culture of hope," said the main organiser of the event, Richard Hines.
"This is a real church and there are real issues that the young people face and so we are coming here for five days to address the issue of conflict resolution, the whole issue of self and self-appreciation, values and attitudes, health and wellness, safety and security and substance abuse," he said.
The church is currently in the process of seeking volunteers to assist with the running of the camp, which will be held in collaboration with the Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and other government agencies and corporate entities.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login