President of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU), the Reverend Norva O. Rodney, said the church will not only pray for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine, but also that the administering of the vaccine will be characterized by impartiality and justice.
The senior clergyman, who was preaching recently during the Opening Service for the JBU’s 171st General Assembly at the Bethel Baptist Church in St Andrew, also denounced self-centeredness and self-preservation and instead reinforced the church’s commitment to nurturing the well-being of the most vulnerable.
“We build the capacity of God’s people to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on industrial relations, workers’ rights and the mental health of our children and youth,” he said.
Jamaica is expected to get its first shipment of between 146,400 and 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines by the end of this month. A recent spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in several hospitals being placed on red alert, and prompted Education Minister Fayval Williams to announce on Wednesday that only students who are to sit major examinations should be allowed to participate in face-to-face learning.
“If there was ever a time that we need to keep faith with the Word, the time is now!” said Reverend Rodney in reference to the JBU’s missional focus for the decade 2020-2030, Keeping Faith with the Word in an Ever-Changing World”.
With the exception of one year, the JBU has been hosting a General Assembly every year since 1849 in order to assess the impact of the Ministry and to agree the plans of the denomination.
“For some time after our 2020 General Assembly, some of us wondered if 2021 would be the second time we would not be able to meet, given the disruptive nature of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the JBU’s General Secretary Reverend Karl Johnson.
“Perhaps for the first time in generations, some eyes were opened, due to the pandemic, to see the horrible living conditions of too many Jamaicans,” he said, before adding that, “Eyes were opened to see the perilous state in which many Jamaicans found themselves mere months after we celebrated the lowest unemployment rate for decades; eyes were opened to see the hell in which too many of our women, girls and boys live that was only made worse by stay-at-home orders; and not to mention how it has opened our eyes to the massive digital divide that impacted many sectors, especially education.”
There are 339 churches within the JBU. Average attendance at Sunday worship for 2020 dipped by approximately 27 per cent and this has been attributed to the impact of the restrictions implemented to combat the spread of Covid-19.
“In time we may get a sense of how many of those persons transitioned to their church’s online offerings. What we can say however is that many of our churches pivoted to virtual platforms as they seized the opportunities provided by growing technologies to do so,” Reverend Johnson said.
The JBU General Assembly is scheduled to take place from Wednesday, February 24 to Sunday, February 28, 2021. The event will be streamed live at www.jbu.church.