Member Church feature: The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI)

 

The United Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands (UCJCI), is called to witness to the love of Christ not only through words, but through deeds. Meeting the needs of people, is, therefore, an important aspect of ministry.

 

Our Mission Statement:

“The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) exists to bear faithful witness to God’s love through Jesus Christ and concern for the holistic development of all persons and God’s creation through life-giving worship and evangelism, social and educational engagement, personal empowerment, advocacy and faith formation toward a just and peaceful society and the ultimate experience of God’s Kingdom.”

There are many manifestations of this witness in Jamaica and in Grand Cayman among our 196 congregations. An organic union of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Disciples of Christ over two unions (1965 and 1992), our continued commitment to both societies in the areas of education and social outreach is well established.

Education

Institutions of learning have been formed at every level within both countries. The UCJCI has fostered in Jamaica and Cayman, three  Universities/Colleges; 8 Secondary or High Schools, 50 Primary and All Age Schools, 8 Preparatory Schools, and 120 Early Childhood Educational Centres or Basic Schools.

United Church Schools are among the most outstanding schools on both islands.

 

Social Outreach

The UCJCI operates a number of institutions aimed at providing support to those in need. We operate two Children’s Homes in Jamaica.  These are Pringle Home and the Mt. Olivet Boys’ Home.

The Pringle Home is located in Carron Hall, St Mary, Jamaica.  The Home aims at moulding young people who can succeed and meaningfully contribute to society. Licensed as the Pringle Home for Children, various church groups visit and motivate, leaving a lasting impression on the mostly young ladies at the Home.

Apart from ongoing assistance from a long list of United Churches islandwide, the building has received several facelifts from donors; student volunteers from Florida International University and the University of California.

The Yohan Blake Foundation also provides support, and a relationship established with a local telecommunication company, LIME, has enabled the provision of some internet connectivity.

The farm helps the Home to become self-sufficient in the provision of some of the food it needs such as chicken and other meat, vegetables and ground provisions.

The Mount Olivet Boys’ Home, is located in Walderston Manchester, Central Jamaica, and caters to boys between the ages of 5 and 18 years. The UCJCI operates and administers the Home, whilst the Government, through the Child Development Agency (CDA), provides a small subvention. The Home also operates a farm and has sought to become self-sufficient in the provision of some of the food it needs such as chicken and other meat, vegetables and ground provisions.

Members of the United Churches within the Southern Regional Mission Council along with other congregations in Cayman and the other Councils provide continued support to the operation of the Home through monetary contributions and donation of food and toiletries. Other groups and organizations who provide needed support include:

  • Food for the Poor, a significant contributor of food items, clothing and school supplies to the boys at the Home.
  • The Yohan Blake Foundation provides continued partnership with the Home, significantly contributing to the boys’ education through the provision of uniforms and school shoes.
  • The staff of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) also provides continued partnership, donating books, schoolbags, and participates in Easter Holiday and Sports Day celebrations, among other events.
  • Global Ministries (a mission organization operated by the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ, USA) provide significant sponsorship of boys at the Home which has assisted in their welfare tremendously.

Most recently, the Mount Olivet Boys Home has initiated the installation of what it calls a “Pre-Independent Living” section which will house boys who are at, or are arriving at the age of 18 years, when they would be expected to leave the Home, and be responsible for themselves in the outside community.

Over the years, concern has been expressed that some of these ’graduates’ of the ’Home’ were not quite ready, and in fact ill-prepared to fully assume responsibilities for themselves after having been in the Home all their lives.  The decision was therefore taken to institute a sort of half-way house which would aid the process.

Senior Citizens’ Home

The United Church owns and operates a Senior Citizens Home in Mandeville.  Both this Home and the Rolph Grant Senior Citizens Home, operated by the Webster Memorial United Church in Kingston, provide a healing and healthy environment for our elderly.

A Unique Prison Ministry

There are no prison bars at this unique prison, more properly called a Correctional Centre.  The New Broughton Sunset Rehabilitation Adult Correctional Centre, built in 1916, is used to house low-risk and ageing inmates of the penal system. Initiated by Mr. Dudley Allen of Webster Memorial United Church, the Centre is managed in collaboration with the Government’s Penal System.

In addition to providing the land and buildings, the UCJCI also continues to provide chaplaincy and other services with the involvement of the Men’s Fellowship. The inmates plant vegetables and rear pigs, chickens and other animals which are sold to support themselves and the institution.

The New Broughton facility is part of the transition process in getting the inmates back to their families and communities. The facility is commonly referred to as the ‘Old Man’s Prison’ and is home to some of the Jamaican prison system’s elderly male inmates. “There are no bars on the doors or the windows, no padlocked doors, no manacles or chains. Even the whitewashed wall bracketing the gateless entrance to the property is low, only waist-high.”

 Our Ministry Against ‘Human Trafficking’

THE THEODORA PROJECT. The spectre of ‘Human Trafficking’ in Jamaica and the Caribbean is real. Women and men are frequently captured or trapped and sold into forced labour, or prostitution, and even allegedly for their body parts. The United Church, through its Theodora Foundation, a non-profit organization, is committed to empowering young people who are at risk of being exploited in human trafficking and the commercial sex trade by offering opportunities for education, skills training and personal development.

Established in 2004 in response to the problem of Human Trafficking in the tourist resort area of Negril, the Project was initiated by (and is an outreach project of) the Negril United Church under the leadership of the then Minister, Rev. Dr. Margaret Fowler, and a team of persons from the Negril community.

The Project is two-fold – offering Skills Training through the Government of Jamaicans public training facility, HEART Trust/NTA and providing a space for vulnerable youths who may be prone to being trafficked or have experienced abuse.

The Theodora Skills Training Centre has been in operation with HEART since 2012, offering training in three skill areas – Housekeeping, Cosmetology and Data Operations. All areas are at Level 2 certification.

In addition, with the assistance of the Council of World Mission (CWM), the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has been able to enhance public education and awareness of the insidious techniques used by the Human Trafficker, through the production of an outstanding documentary on the topic, titled “TRAFFICKED: The Caribbean Story”. The two-part documentary not only chronicled real-life experiences of the trafficked in Jamaica, but also in Guyana, Cayman, and Barbados. Produced and first aired on national television in Jamaica in 2015, the documentary continues to be used locally, as well as in Barbados, and in Florida, USA.

In addition, a musical drama, “Where is Melissa”, written and produced on the topic by a UCJCI member, now an ordained UCJCI Minister, was extensively used as a teaching tool among schools islandwide, as well as at various other institutions in Jamaica, Cayman and Guyana.

A Comprehensive Counseling Ministry

Webster Memorial United Church, where there is general counselling, Ridgemount United Church, where a “Children Under Stress Programme” has been initiated; and in Grand Cayman, where the Bethesda Counselling Centre operates as an outreach of the Regional Mission Council.

We are Grateful

The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands is grateful for the contribution over the years from our global partners, including the Council for World Mission (CWM), towards these projects and programmes, in the form of financial and human resources.

We continue to celebrate our contributions towards the missional direction and leadership of CWM through a number of persons, including the current General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Collin Cowan.

A ‘Missional’ Church

The United Church asserts through its mission, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant to any and every situation that humankind may experience.  As such, the Church is committed to assist every individual within its reach to receive and embrace the message of the Gospel as that which enables us to envision a better, brighter world and to walk in confident faith despite the challenges posed by the present climate.

Our commitment therefore is expressed here under:

We will champion the cause of the poor and dispossessed

We will present ourselves as “wounded healers”, a people who know the pain of dislocation and the power of deliverance to offer life-giving signs of hope through more meaningful and fulfilling encounters with those in need and providing assurance of God’s presence in trying times rooted in our Vision Statement – “Touching Lives, Nurturing Disciples, Seeking Transformation through Christ”.

We invite members of the CWM Family to pray with us for faithfulness in achieving this commitment to becoming a “Needs Meeting Church.”

 

2019-07-16T14:44:08+08:00