The Reverend Julia Brown Karimu, President of the Division of Overseas Ministries and Co-Executive of Global Ministries, together with the Reverend Angel L. Rivera Agosto, Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean of Global Ministries, visited with partners in Jamaica, from February 7 to 12, 2018. During their visit, they had the opportunity to dialogue with the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the United Theological College for the Western Isles, and the International University of the Caribbean.
During their visit to the offices of the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, they were received by the Secretary-General of the organization, Rev. Norbert Stephens; Doreen Barnett, Director of Financial Planning; Janet McConnett, Human and Mission Resource; and Henroy Samuels, Regional Deputy. The United Church is a church in two nations: Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Founded in 1992 with the union of the Congregational traditions, Disciples of Christ and Presbyterian, the United Church has 14,000 members in full communion and is part of a religious map where Christianity turns out to be the majority religion in a country of multiple religious expressions. In Jamaica, there are religious practitioners ranging from Hinduism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church to Rastafarianism and Afro-Caribbean religions.
In their meeting with the Church, Pastors Brown Karimu and Rivera-Agosto were able to learn more about the social context of the country its challenges to the Church. One of them is violence and crime, as well as unemployment, corruption, inequality, and dysfunction in families. This context has placed the Church in the call to strengthen the ministries of local economic development with an emphasis on education and capacity building, as well as attention to the protection and shelter of children, chaplaincies, and efforts to strengthen the family. Another focus that they shared with us has to do with the advocacy and public testimony of the church as well as the creation of economic and social partnerships with other sectors of civil society.
At the United Theological College of the West Indies, Pastors Brown Karimu and Rivera-Agosto held an interview with the acting President, Rev. Dr. Oral Thomas. The United School has the support of 6 denominations and receives students from nations including Honduras, Belize, Guyana, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, among others. They have distinguished alumni in the ecumenical movement, such as Dr. Philip Potter, who served as General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. The United College has a vast variety of theological educational programs that range from Masters in Divinity, Art, Theology, Research, and Philosophy as well as Doctorates in Ministry and Philosophy. It has 45 students in residence and 80 in graduate programs. In his reflection on Jamaican society, Dr. Thomas shared that the United College aspires to affirm a contextual theology in which the biblical paradigm's path influences the reality of the country. Since all human history goes from freedom to slavery, we aspire to assume the biblical model of history, where humans are put to walk from slavery to freedom. "
Global Ministries officials also had the opportunity to dialogue with Makesha and Maitland Evans, Director of Academic Affairs and President, respectively, of the International University of the Caribbean. This university combines formal higher education with community development experience. Its vision is to influence the empowerment of qualified persons who will cultivate and promote the well-being of family, community, and nation. She works in educational programs that range from school to university education in more than a dozen campuses across the entire Jamaican map.
Finally, Pastors Brown Karimu and Rivera-Agosto were invited to participate in a gala and celebration worship for the 25 years of ministry of the United Church in Hellshire, a congregation located in the capital. William and Veronica Kyle, former Mission Coworkers of Global Ministries, worked in the church and contributed to the construction of the facilities of that congregation.