The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) was formed following a historic ceremony held on the grounds of Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, on December 13, 1992. This ceremony marked the union of the Disciples of Christ in Jamaica and the United Church of Jamaica and the Grand Cayman Islands. The journey of this unification began as far back as the 1880s when efforts were made to bring about the union between the then United Presbyterian Church and the Congregational Churches operating in Jamaica. The first complete step was made on December 1, 1965, when the Presbyterian Church in Jamaica and the Congregational Union of Jamaica became one Church, the United Church of Jamaica and The Grand Cayman Islands.
The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has six priorities as it works toward the goal and mission of the Church. The UCJCI recognizes that when the church, the people of God, are united in God’s love, it is easier to reach out to each other and the church is better positioned to make a positive difference in the world. This is the basic concept and understanding that has driven the call for the renewal of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
The six priority initiatives of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are:
- Provide summer camps for children
- Provide financial resources to further support the programs of the two children’s homes: Mount Olivet Boys’ Home and Pringle Home for Children
- Increase church planting to meet the needs of the population across the country
- Initiate school exchange programs among youth and teachers
- Implement an educational resource exchange program
- Repair and renovate churches that are deteriorating
One of the six priority initiatives of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands is to promote good family and community values among Jamaican youth. Implementation of this initiative is lived out through the annual summer camps hosted by the church. The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands hosts a series of summer camps annually, providing the church with an excellent opportunity to listen to and influence the youth that reside within their communities.
The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands’ camps provide opportunities for young people to reflect on the true meaning and purpose of life and to determine whether or not their daily choices are aligned to their hopes and aspirations. Through Bible studies, keynote addresses, workshops, and informal rap sessions, youth explore the core values and principles of Christianity. The church encourages the youth to apply these principles in daily living at the camp and beyond the camp and to become positive change agents in their local congregations and communities -- being the change they want to see.
The UCJCI challenges itself to strengthen its camping program by: 1) increasing the number of camp participants to 1000 participants; 2) improving the camp venue; in particular the dormitories and outdoor sporting facilities; 3) strengthening capacity in camp management, and nurturing skills in youth development; 4) improving and increasing camp resources including musical instruments and audio visual equipment. Global Ministries has provided support for Jamaican children and youth to participate in this summer camp program.
Other priority initiatives live out the intention of the UCJCI to promote shared experiences with Christians in other countries. Implementation of cultural exchange experiences is imperative for the UCJCI. The church would like to encourage exchanges among youth, educators, church leaders, and others with their counterparts in other parts of the world. Ultimately, the UCJCI realizes that though they have needs that need to be fulfilled within their own church and can learn from others, they also are implementing strategies that are producing desired results and can contribute to other situations as well.