United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

UCJCI Update

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Life Has The Final Word-By Rt. Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans

Wednesday Apr 07, 2021
 
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Easter message comes to you in a period in which
we have experienced at least a year of pandemic
conditions. The corona virus has altered so much of life as
we know it with much uncertainty, discomfort and illness
and for some the spectre of death has been a haunting
reality. We grieve with those who grieve the passing of
their loved ones and we stand in solidarity with those who
currently face significant health challenges, whether
caused or exacerbated by the direct or
indirect impact of the pandemic.
This Easter message is meant to remind us together that at the heart of
our faith is the astounding reality of a God who chooses
to live in and among people, bearing and experiencing the challenges of
human life and who is in every sense acquainted with
grief. Jesus knows all about our trials. Our God does not
recoil in the face of trouble.
Jesus’ life on earth is the seminal example of how to face
disaster. With fortitude, He bore the cross and emerged
on the other side of death.
Yes, emerged victorious!

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A RESILIENT CHURCH: Hard-Pressed But Not Crushed

Wednesday Mar 31, 2021
 
As we approach the 42nd Synod of The United
Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJI)
it is important for every member of our church to
understand the theme—Rooted, Resilient:
Responding in H.O.P.E. (Health, Opportunity, Peace and
Evangelism). Engagement of the theme will certainly be
demonstrated in understanding and action which offer to the
wider community witness to the love of God and the invitation
to a saving and life-giving relationship with God.
In January 2021, UCJCI Update published excerpts from the
document, The Road Map, which outlines the theological
underpinning of the theme of the 42nd Synod.
Here is the full text of the section related to the word,
‘Resilient’. 

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Gender Based Violence - Recognize and Re- Position by Rev Donovan Myers

Wednesday Mar 24, 2021
 
My earliest recollection of violence within families is
an incident that I observed one Sunday afternoon
when I was about nine years old. The commotion
caused by the shouting and crying that emanated
from my neighbours, alerted others in the community to peek
through their windows or congregate on their verandas to get a
first-hand view of Terrence and Wanda (not their real names)
‘at it again’. I was just in time to see him pulling her by the arm
down the forty-five-degree gravel driveway to the sounds of her
pleading with him to let her go. She grabbed on to an overhanging tree limb (about the size of her arm) that gave way to the
force of him pulling her. Halfway down the incline he suddenly
let go of her, causing her to fall and skate a few feet before
coming to a stop. Bruised and crying, she limped away. I
couldn’t understand why no one went over to assist her. A few
weeks later I overheard two adults saying that they were back
together again, and that Wanda had reported that Terrence
only hits her because he loves her.

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Now Is The Time To Serve

Wednesday Mar 17, 2021
 
The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman
Islands (UCJCI), as part of the worldwide family of
Reformed Churches, subscribes to the
‘priesthood of all believers’. By this, we believe that
everyone who embraces salvation through Jesus Christ is
automatically enlisted in the service of God. In other
words, the mission given to the Church by Jesus Christ is
the personal responsibility of each Christian and the
collective business of all of the people of God.
Every UCJCI member belongs to a local congregation. It is
here that our service must begin. Each member is invited to
use the abilities, gifts, and other resources entrusted by God to
enrich and expand the witness of the congregation to which
she or he belongs.
The UCJCI is currently making a more concerted effort to
assist every member to become more actively involved in the
life and witness of the church, beginning but not ending at the
level of the local congregation.

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MEN ON A MISSION

Wednesday Mar 10, 2021
 
The United Church Men’s Fellowship (UCMF) is
an organisation of men—18 years and over—
within the United Church in Jamaica and the
Cayman Islands who aspire to live their motto,
‘Serving Together in Christ’s Name’. 
OBJECTIVES OF THE MEN’S FELLOWSHIP
1.To unite the men who attend the Church to which the
UCMF is attached in Christian fellowship and mission;
2.To promote spiritual birth and growth, particularly in
relation to men;
3.To foster human development, particularly through
spiritual, social, educational, economic and cultural
activities;
4.To foster, identify, develop and utilize leadership
potential and qualities in men and boys;
5.To assist in the establishment and development of the
Boy’s Brigade Company in the Church to which the
UCMF is attached;
6.To provide Christian counselling, guidance and
support for boys and girls, men and women of the
church and community (whether individually
or as an organization) in keeping with the
paternal role of men;
7.To promote and engage in activities in response to the
needs of the church as they arise from time to time;
8.To promote and engage in community service.

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THE PATH TO A RESPONSE OF H.O.P.E.

Wednesday Mar 03, 2021
 
In offering the theme—Rooted, Resilient, Responding in
H.O.P.E. (Hope, Opportunity, Peace and Evangelism) the
United Church recognizes that the journey to responding in
HOPE should be traced back to the beginning of the Renewal
and Transformation strategic agenda of UCJCI. The theme
paper, ‘The Road Map to the Synodical Theme’ states the
following:
As a Church we started a process fifteen years ago (2005) of
rereading our context and discerning the signs of the time,
towards meeting the spiritual (wholistic) needs of the people we
serve. This led to the Renewal and Transformation (R&T)
Agenda of the United Church.
At our Synod in 2009 the R& T agenda was enacted and the
process has been one of mixed engagement/s and mixed
review/s for the most part, for varying reasons. However, what
cannot be denied is, given where we found ourselves 12 years
ago, it would have been very unproductive and disheartening
to remain there.

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MODERATOR LAUNCHES THE 42ND UCJCI SYNOD

Thursday Feb 25, 2021
 
The 42nd Synod of th United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands was officially launched at the Ash Wednesday Day of Fellowship Worship events.
In a video presentation shared in all Regions, the plans for the upcoming Synod were outlined by the UCJCI Moderator, Rt. Rev. Gordon Cowans. The Synod has found us in uncharterd waters. We are holding a Synod amidst a pandemic, requirning us to abide b strict protocols of limitations on the number of persons gathering in a space, physical distancing, wearing of masks, hand sanitizing and minimum physical contact.
He continue; "The theme for this Synod is 'Rooted, Resilient: Responding in HOPE', and in this regard HOPE means Health, Opportunity, Peace and Evangelism. The call is to be Rooted,Resilient, and Responding by offering HOPE through health, opportunities,peace and evangelism." 

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A SHOT IN THE ARM The Case for COVID-19 Vaccine for All

Wednesday Feb 17, 2021
 
The news that Jamaica, as one of the
countries that is part of the Covid-19
Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, is
set to receive its first doses of the AstraZeneca
vaccine this month is welcome relief. The Government has previously indicated that vaccines would
not be available before April 2021, with a target of
vaccinating 16% of the population by the end of 2021.
Given the widespread nature of COVID-19, its mutation and
the exponential rise in cases in Jamaica over the last few
weeks, the need for a vaccine is fundamental to bringing the
virus under control. This would allow for a reduction in the
infection rate and usher in a positive movement towards
achieving herd immunity.

Beyond The Pulpit - Fasting in a Feasting Culture
On this Ash Wednesday, as the Christian Church once
again observes the beginning of Lent, a 40-day fast in
preparation for Easter, we do so in emulation of
Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before he began his
public ministry. Fasting as defined by the Encyclopaedia
Britannica is the “abstinence from food or drink or both for
health, ritualistic, religious, or ethical purposes”. 

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UCJCI DONATES 155 TABLETS FOR EDUCATION

Wednesday Feb 10, 2021
 
155 tablets have been donated by the United Church in partnership with Council for World Mission (CWM) to children across Jamaica at the primary school level.
With the onset of COVID 19, CWM offered funds, through its COVID19 Mission Initiative Fund, to assist churches and partners in the
mission initiatives they are taking in response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a means of offering solidarity, witness and care.
Applications were invited for work in community which would address needs of vulnerable groups which could include the recently
unemployed, victims of domestic violence, health care workers, children in education and other areas deemed fit. 

READY, SET, GO...GET READY TO SERVE- - Training of Lay Leaders Resumes 
Re-branded UCJCI Lay Leaders Certificate Course, training for lay leaders in the United
Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands resumes on Saturday February 13, 2021 and continues on 2nd
and 4th Saturdays each month for the next 6 months. In 2020, UCJCI launched a re-vamped programme to prepare laity
(members of the church who are not part of the clergy) for the role of leadership through a systematic
approach to training in areas considered pertinent to the exercise of ministry in the church and community.

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SEEK PEACE, HARMONY AND GOODWILL

Wednesday Feb 03, 2021
 
In preparing this brief reflection, I engaged a colleague
minister on the topic. Consequently, some of the thoughts
expressed here, while I am in concert with them, did not
originate with me.
According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica
recorded 1,301 killings in 2020 and had the region's highest
homicide rate at 46.5 per 100,000 people. Note that the United
Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens
or above to be an “epidemic.” It would not be far-fetched to
state that COVID-19 is not the only pandemic we are currently
facing.
“NIDS is not the Mark of the Beast.”
The National Identification System (NIDS) has been on the
lips of many Jamaicans here and in the diaspora in recent
years. Much work, time and money have been invested in
the project. While there were those who were advocating
for its implementation, there was much disquiet in the
society as concerns were expressed regarding the
invasiveness of some of the measures outlined in the Bill;
privacy issues, biblical and theological misgivings, among
other issues. 

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United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands