Thousands gathered into the majestic nave of the Riverside Church in Morningside Heights, New York City, for the annual Service of Thanksgiving celebrating the nation of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence on Sunday July 29, 2012.
In the dedication of Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence, the Right Reverend Howard Gregory, Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, delivered the sermon with reflections from one of the lesser prophets, Haggai. Ironically, he spoke of the neglect of the lesser of these, the poor and humble, and the great divide of the rich and poor from 1962, the year of Jamaica’s Independence from Britain.
Bishop Gregory made the correlation of the corrosion of citizens’ social responsibility to that of their neglect of God’s temple: “The God of the Judean Christian tradition should be in the midst of our lives as individuals and as a community. We must have a keen sense of priority, accountability, and stewardship accompanied by justice, courage, which reflects the very holistic nature of God.” He cited the exponential growth of murder crimes from 1962 to the very present time, wherein the numbers speaks to the neglect and decay of the community of God’s people and the temple of God as a direct correlation to the moral and social decadence.
As a post-colonial nation he rhetorically asked: “What is it that we are seeking to celebrate?” ‘Emancipendence’, a termed recently coined by the late Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford, as he quotes from Jamaica’s iconic singer, Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley who used words from the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey; “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” He noted from recent international study, that racial discrimination is persistent in the Caribbean, its existence is so covert and subtle; that only astuteness and sensitivity to its subtleties allow for consciousness of its very existence.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds, “he quotes from Bob Marley. The very good news is that “God has enabled our liberation.” He implores, that Jamaicans must keep hope alive, and that “the future always contains the best that is yet to come” although slavery in varied forms continues to loom.
There was commonality with Bishop Gregory’s reflections to that of the Independence Message of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller. Consul General of Jamaica in New York, Herman G. LaMont, quotes from the Hon. Prime Minister: “As we celebrate the notable achievements and successes we have made as a nation and a people, I also call on everyone to make this time a time of renewal of commitment; a time to forge and strengthen relations and help build our beloved country into becoming the place we all want it to be – the country to live, work raise families, do business and retire.”
The Prime Minister calls on all Jamaicans “to build on our great legacy so that future generations can be proud of Jamaica.”
The international, interdenominational, progressive Riverside Church aptly partnered with the Consulate General of Jamaica, in honoring Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence. The Reverend Robert B. Coleman, Program Minister/Minister for Mission and Social Justice hosted the evening’s thanksgiving and celebration service, while the Reverend Canon Calvin C. McIntyre, officiated. They were joined by other members of the clergy, diplomats, politicians, the Jamaica Independence Choir, cultural and youth groups and a wide cross-section of the Jamaican Diaspora.
The Clifton Boys’ Home in Darliston, Westmoreland, Jamaica, was designated as the recipient of the offering.
For further information on the 50th Anniversary of Independence Church Service of Thanksgiving, contact the Consulate General of Jamaica, New York, at 212-935-9000 Ext 121 or Ext. 123.
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