Foreign Affairs Minister Hails Contribution of the Church
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, has hailed the church as a venerable institution that provides visionary, inspirational and positive contributions towards nation building.
Addressing the Jamaica Christian Diaspora Conference at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in St. James on October 13, she said the church has played a great role in Jamaica’s history and has been a place of hope and refuge for the powerless and most vulnerable in the society.
She noted that the sacrifices of two of the national heroes, The Right Excellent Paul Bogle and The Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe, who were both Baptist ministers, placed the nation on a path of self-determination.
The institution, she said, continues to champion the cause of the disenfranchised and the oppressed while at the same time providing leadership and service in the critical areas of health and education.
“Time would not permit me to list the many schools and hospitals that have been established by the church throughout our history. Likewise, in the diaspora, the church has been the bedrock and a source of comfort for many Jamaicans who migrated to other lands,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Johnson Smith said the Jamaica Government views the church as an invaluable partner in the quest for economic prosperity.
She hailed the Street Pastors Programme, which focuses on taking Christian values to people in the streets.
“With 125 trained street pastors from 35 churches, this programme has served approximately 3,000 individuals from communities in Kingston. The Montego Bay launch is slated to take place on October 14 and I sincerely hope and pray that it will receive the same level of success that it has in Kingston,” she said.
The Minister told diaspora members that their philanthropic efforts in mobilising financial and human resources in the areas of health, education and community renewal have not gone unnoticed, noting that they have impacted the lives of many Jamaicans , particularly the less fortunate.
“On behalf of the Government, I acknowledge and commend your devoted sacrifice in the service of your fellow citizens,” she added.
Citing the theme of the conference, ‘Engaging our Youth, Securing our Future’, Ms. Johnson Smith said it is both commendable and timely and embodies one of the Government’s key areas of focus.
“Youth empowerment and involvement in the decision-making process is critical to nation building,” she remarked. “Our young people and all their energy, creativity and innovative capacity are important to Jamaica’s development. We must, therefore, engage, guide, develop and support them as we seek to explore new solutions to the challenges we face as a nation,” she said.
Ms. Johnson Smith informed that she had already begun to engage young people in the diaspora during recent visits to the United States and Canada.
“I will continue the dialogue with the young leaders in other locations, as my vision is to create a platform that facilitates their active and integral participation in the development process in Jamaica,” she said.