The 172nd General Assembly of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) is a few weeks away. It promises to be memorable with a programme to ignite discourse, spiritual enrichment and decision making.
Gatherings and events will be virtual but Acting General Secretary Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley guarantees the usual rich experience. It will usher in the new two-year sub-theme, “Embracing the Mystery.”
“The theme will run throughout the assembly programme. Participants will grapple with the theme and its implications after the assembly ends,” said Rev Hyde Riley.
The assembly will be from February 23-25 and 27. It begins Wednesday evening with an opening address by JBU President Rev. Norva Rodney.
A much-anticipated Bible Study will be on Thursday. We look forward to God using the Rev. Judith Johnson Grant.
“Business sessions are not to be missed,” said Rev Hyde Riley. “Reports will be treated in a slightly different format. Participants will discuss the general secretary’s report in small groups and make recommendations for implementation. Persons will choose the auxiliary group to interact with. Time will be allotted for online engagement with these groups simultaneously.”
Mission is the lifeblood of the church. A short documentary will highlight Baptist engagement in health and healing. The hope is these stories will inspire others. The documentary will show churches providing access to health services to the most vulnerable in the society. These offer alternatives to families who either pay for expensive treatment in the private healthcare system or endure long waits at public health facilities. It weaves together the experiences of those committed to this mission and ways to reduce non-communicable diseases and mental health challenges.
The David Jelleyman Lecture, a main feature of the assembly, will be delivered by Dr. Stephen Jennings. He will explore the topic, “Reading the signs of the time.”
Activities on Friday include Bible Study, a memorial to honour leaders who died since the last general assembly, citations to retired ministers, and elections.
The day ends with a music festival showcasing outstanding talents. Rev. Johnson-Grant, a member of the General Assembly Planning Committee, said the 2022 Assembly Music Festival will feature a special journey into the JBU’s musical heritage.
“Music has been a significant ministry within the Jamaica Baptist Union since its inception, with myriad genres and forms of music embraced throughout local congregations,” said Rev. Johnson-Grant. “Through musical offerings and stories, this virtual event will weave a tapestry from history to present, featuring inspiring pieces across different musical genres, some arranged by JBU composers.”
Rev. Tanesha Ashbourne and Dr. Robert Daley will bring the curtains down with a closing ceremony on Sunday morning.
The general assembly is the highest decision-making body of the JBU. A highlight is the election of the executive committee for the next two years. Dr. Glenroy Lalor is the next president. Persons will interact with the revised draft of the constitution, part of the JBU renewal process.
Some aspects of the assembly and materials will be only for registered participants. Cost for registration is $12,500. This can be done online at jbu.church/assembly.
“We depend on registration fees to underwrite the cost,” Rev. Hyde Riley said.
Though the event will be hosted online, the acting general secretary said assembly expense, including technical equipment and the time and expertise of personnel, account for most of the assembly cost.
“We want a programme of the highest quality. Our constituency expects nothing less. We are blessed with wonderful volunteers who bring expertise in different areas, but some things we have to pay for,” she said.
Much research went into planning the 171st Assembly when the JBU hosted the event virtually for the first time. Information and lessons from that experience will ensure the 172nd General Assembly is of the highest quality.