United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

About Us

The roots of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands go back to 1800 in Jamaica and 1846 in the Cayman Islands. The Church under its present name was the result of the union in 1992 of the then United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman and the Disciples of Christ in Jamaica. The United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman was itself the product of the union in 1965 of the Presbyterian Church, in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and the Congregational Church in Jamaica. Our Logo contains symbols representative of these denominations. For further historical details, see "History." Currently, our denomination has over 10,000 members in over 200 congregations. Please see also: "What we Believe" and our resultant "Values Statement" (the Synod-wide statement which encompassed the previous Core Values used before by the Cayman Council).

(In addition to our own ministries and missions, we work with other ‘agencies’ locally and internationally that evangelise, assist people seeking various kinds of help, and in caring for the ecological aspects of God’s creation – for which we encourage our Members to ‘Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle’. Some of the names on our “Links” page may contain contact details for such agencies.)

In the Cayman Islands

The United Church is the longest established Church in the Cayman Islands. It was formerly the Presbyterian Church (as the other two antecedent Denominations were not represented in Cayman), and is found in every District of Grand Cayman, with more than one congregation in some Districts. Wherever you live or are staying on Grand Cayman, there is a United Church within easy reach of you!

There are 9 congregations serving the Island, with worship services in each at scheduled times every Sunday and other services, Bible Study, and prayer times during the week. In each District there is also a Sunday School attached to one or more of our congregations, plus youth groups and other organisations or activities for youth and adults. As we seek to remain faithful to the proclamation of the Word of God and reflect the love of Christ, having 9 congregations across Grand Cayman enables us to provide intimate fellowship in our worship services; competent pastoral counselling to the many who seek us out because we are near; and to minister in an unique way to all the people of Grand Cayman, particularly the children and the older residents who still spend most of their time in their local communities. Further details are available from each congregation – click here for contact details – and they will happily provide you with transportation to services when needed.

Each congregation is under the leadership of an ordained minister (who may have been ordained by one of our international partner churches in the Reformed Tradition), called by the congregation and appointed by the Synod of our Church.

For further information on the structure of the United Church, and how to become a communicant member, please see the section "Membership and Structure of the United Church."

The Synod Office (and the Church in Jamaica)

The location and contact details of the Synod office for the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, through which the Moderator and General Secretary may also be contacted, are as follows:

United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands
12 Carlton Crescent (P. O. Box 359)
Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 926-8734/6059
E-mail: synod@ucjci.com
Website: www.ucjci.com 


What We Believe

The basics of our core Beliefs

(Further details of what we believe, and the Theological reasons for our beliefs, are found in our book, My Church; we also subscribe to the internationally known Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed.)

1. There is a God, one God only.

2. God has chosen to be revealed to humanity as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit, the Three in One.

3. God created all there is, was or ever will be. (We do not believe there is any inherent conflict with science in this belief. Science is in the details of how God created the universe and all that is in it. Science does not, however, disprove the Christian belief in creation by God.)

4. God is Holy; the only perfectly holy being. This refers to the majesty and purity of God and the transcendental separateness and apartness of the Divine from the creature. In this holiness, God has established that which is morally right and good, which God actively promotes while steadfastly opposing moral evil.

5. Sin is rebellion against God and God’s righteous ways, in all the forms that such rebellion (disobedience) exists in our world.

6. Humanity was created in the image of God, who has a special love for us, and we are blessed with an empowering need to love, worship and obediently serve God in a relationship which would make us complete.

7. Humanity, by the abuse of the freewill which God has endowed us with, disobeyed God (as related in the story of Adam and Eve, in the book of Genesis in the Bible). Sin has existed ever since and humans have no longer been able to live without sinning.

8. Sin is an offence against God. It follows that humanity stands guilty, condemned before God. In order to be rescued from the fatal penalty for such condemnation, eternal separation from God, we must each be pardoned, redeemed and reconciled to God. This was accomplished finally by God becoming incarnate amongst us, sending Jesus Christ to be born of a human mother (“the Virgin Birth”), to live a perfect, sinless life, then to die a human death, taking on the sins of all humanity so that we could have the means to be redeemed and our empowering relationship with God restored. Then Jesus rose from the dead to conquer death and so provide the means for us to live in eternity with God.

9. God by grace initiates the act of redemption for each of us; it is not something we can do by ourselves, for no matter how ‘good’ we may be, not one of us will ever be perfect, sinless. If we accept God’s invitation, confess our sins and repent of those ways, ask to be forgiven and truly receive Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Lord and Saviour, we will be redeemed and inherit eternal life in Heaven with God. There is no other way we can be redeemed.

10. This salvation and the faith that it demands, requires us to continue to grow in the Holy Spirit, spread the good news of Christ and reflect God’s unconditional love for all others. In so doing, we also discover the right way to a fulfilling life here on earth.

11. The Bible is the final, authoritative Word of God.

12. We observe the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion as a means for those who believe to express their faith and grow in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.

13. All believers are equal. Both women and men may be called to become ordained ministers and may serve in all offices of the Church, whether within the Clergy or the laity.

Doctrines and beliefs in respect of specific issues

As a result of our Core Beliefs, we believe that everyone needs Christ and a personal relationship with Him. Consequently, we believe also that the Church is open to all. Jesus made the point on more than one occasion that the main reason He had come to earth incarnate was “for sinners” – i.e. all of us (see our Core Beliefs preceding – and also below re “communicant membership”).

We do believe, however, that all who have genuinely accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour must make every effort to live the way God calls us to live and improve in that effort daily, that is, to seek to continually “grow in Christ” by the strength which He will make available to us to do so. Consequently, there are certain activities that we do not regard as in keeping with God’s will for us, because of His love for all and His concept of merciful justice for everyone. (Similarly, there are many things we believe that Christians should be doing in obedience to God, which all of us fail to do at all times, but must keep trying to do better). This differentiation is sometimes commonly referred to in Christian circles in catchy phrases such as “hate the sin but love the sinner” and variations on this. To people outside the Church (and, often, to Christians ourselves) this differentiation can be difficult to understand when seen in practice, leading to charges of “hypocritical” against the Church or individual churches and to misconceptions as to who should be worshipping in our churches, etc. God alone will make the judgement call on who will or will not enter the gates of Heaven. By the same token, God’s unconditional love and forgiving nature should never be mistaken as a license to deliberately continue sinning. Jesus Himself clearly forewarned us that there will come a time when “the door (is) shut” – Mat. 25: 10 NIV – and none of us knows when that time will come for us.

For details on becoming a communicant member of a congregation, please see "Membership and Structure."

If you have any questions about where the UCJCI stands on any given issue, please contact one of our ministers for a discussion. We think it would be an injustice to try to list our ‘position’ on the many complex issues in relation to faith and morals.

The doctrines of the UCJCI are tightly regulated and our Synod has created a Constitution and Doctrine Committee that has been delegated the sole authority for promulgating doctrine of our Church.

Where position papers have been issued by our Church (a limited number), such as on gambling, these may be obtained from the Council office or any minister.

Our Logo

The logo of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands evolved out of three logos of the antecedent denominations. The elements of the logo represent the symbols that are of significance to the doctrine and beliefs of the respective antecedent denominations.

The Cross - that which unites the antecedent denominations, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church

The Open Bible - represents the centrality of the Word of the God. This was a significant feature in the logo of the former Congregational church.

The Chalice - represents Christ's death and resurrection; the symbol used by the former Disciples of Christ.

The Burning Bush - 'burnt but not consumed' the perpetual flame of the gospel. A symbol of Presbyterianism.

The Sea - symbolic of a church in two nations, the witness across the Caribbean sea as well as a witness not confined to the boundaries of the shores of the Caribbean. 

Membership and Structure of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

Congregations

Members, adherents (persons who attend church there but have not officially become “members”) and persons who have been dedicated to God by infant baptism or blessing in that congregation, are all under the pastoral care of the Church and are collectively referred to as the congregation. Each congregation is under the leadership of an ordained Minister, assisted by Elders chosen from the membership, collectively termed the Congregational Board, and of which the Minister is the Chairperson. Depending on size, more than one congregation may be linked together as a "charge."

"Members" of a Congregation are persons who have been received into full communion in that Congregation by profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord through Baptism/Confirmation; or transfer of membership from another congregation/church (or by re-affirmation of faith in the absence of a certificate/letter of transfer); or on restoration. Only members in full communion and good standing have a right to take part in the business of Congregational Meetings. Members have certain constitutional responsibilities and duties in relation to the Church, its doctrines and discipline. Please contact the minister of your congregation if you wish to become a communicant member.

Regional Mission Councils

These are geographical groupings of congregations, to facilitate the administration and decision making of the Church. The congregations in Cayman comprise one of 4 Councils of our Church. Each congregation is represented in its Council by elected delegates (2 for the first 300 members and 1 for each additional 100 or part thereof).

The Synod

This is the supreme court of the Church, consisting of all members of the Regional Mission Councils. Synod convenes every two years. In the interim, the administrative business of the Church is delegated to the Central Mission Council of the Synod, assisted by various other standing committees. The Synod is presided over by an elected Moderator. The General Secretary is the chief administrative officer of the Church, who supervises and monitors its programmes, through both the Regional Mission Councils and the Synod Committees, and the administrative staff. The General Secretary is currently assisted by Four Regional Deputy General Secretaries, one of whom has particular responsibilities for the Church’s operations in the Cayman Islands and is located at the Cayman Islands Council Office.

The Church's History in Cayman

The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands began its ministry in the Cayman Islands in 1846 as the Presbyterian Church, after two other Denominations had been unable to keep going. Our Church has continued its ministry unbroken ever since and in that way was instrumental in the establishment of Christianity in Cayman, and thus the Christian heritage to which the majority of Caymanians still lay claim.

In 1830 the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica decided to send Missionaries to preach the Gospel in Africa; they set out for Calabar in Nigeria in 1845 but did not get beyond the Cayman Islands as their ship was wrecked on the reef there. Rev. Hope Waddell was one of the ministers on board the ill-fated ship and when he discovered that there was no organized church on the islands he appealed to the Presbyterian authorities in Jamaica for ministerial help. Rev. William Niven, a Scottish Presbyterian Missionary then serving in Jamaica, also passed through Grand Cayman that year and from then passionately prevailed upon the Church in Scotland and Jamaica to extend its mission to the Cayman Islands.

In 1846, the Synod meeting at Goshen in St. Mary decided that someone should go. The joint objectives were the development of Christianity and education. The Rev. James Elmslie heard of the plight of the Caymanians and at the age of 50 he was sent to the Cayman Islands to establish the Presbyterian Church there. Rev. Elmslie had been at Green Island Church in Jamaica and when no other volunteer was found to set up the Cayman Church he said, "If no one will go, I will go". Rev. Niven literally gave his life in accomplishing the mission he felt so passionately for – he was lost at sea in a hurricane in October 1846 on his way back to Jamaica, after bringing the Rev. Elmslie to Grand Cayman to take charge of the work here.

Rev. Elmslie travelled all over the Island on horseback, by boat and on foot, planting churches, eventually in all the main settlements of Grand Cayman.

In keeping with its second objective, from shortly after it began its ministry in Cayman in 1846, the Church began to champion education, taking steps to provide elementary education throughout Grand Cayman, and to press the Government to expand the education services across the country.  At its centennial celebrations in Cayman in 1946, the Church took the decision to begin providing secondary education, offering the internationally recognised Senior Cambridge Examinations. Thus began the Cayman High School as it was then called, with its Preparatory Department, and also a Commercial Department. This was later to become what is now the Cayman Prep and High School. The role of the Church in education is no doubt reflected in the fact that the first two Government High Schools were named in memory of two of the Church’s ministers and educators in the School, Rev. John Gray and Rev. George Hicks, while the third, the Clifton Hunter High School, is named in memory of one of our Elders who was also a pioneering educator here.

United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands