The Jamaica Baptist Union’s 168th General Assembly, set to open in Kingston at the Boulevard Baptist Church, on Wednesday, February 21, is earmarked for the history pages: At the first of two closing services on Sunday, February 25, at the National Arena, the Union installs its first female president, Karen Kirlew, pastor of the St. Ann’s Bay Circuit of Baptist Churches. Kirlew also holds the distinction of being the first clergywoman to serve as vice-president of the Union.
JBU General Secretary Karl B Johnson says, “although every session and activity at the Assembly ought to be viewed as a vehicle through which God uses His people, “the induction of the first female president will be an historic and exciting moment for all Baptists in Jamaica.”
Kirlew, along with a new executive, will lead the 40,000 strong denomination for the next two years, under the decade-long thematic banner and new sub-theme: Being God’s People in God’s World: Living in Partnership.
According to Johnson, the new sub-theme - Living in Partnership - is especially relevant in these times, where there is a need for collaboration and cooperation among denominations and between Church and State. He points to the long-standing partnership that the Union shares with the Jamaican education sector as an example of a solid collaboration that counts; and averred that “God has called His church to partnerships that enhance the dignity of each human being.”
As a signal of the Union’s commitment to partnership, the sub-theme will be expressed in what Johnson describes as a “massive Partnership Fair” slated for Friday on the grounds of the Boulevard Baptist Church. The fair will see exhibitions mounted by stakeholders from various public and private sector organizations, including the Guardian Life mobile health clinic, Registrar General Department (RGD), Passport and Immigration Citizens Agency (PICA), Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Cari-Med Limited, Heart Trust / National Training Agency (HEART / NTA), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB).
There will be information-sharing sessions from several entities in the services sector; and the aim of the fair is to empower the targeted publics by providing access to a range of social and commercial services and related information.
The Union will also convene, on Thursday evening, a Town Hall meeting around issues related to crime, security and the Church; the outcomes of which will inform the definition and development of a sustainable partnership with the security forces, Johnson explains.
Two other major activities, which the General Secretary holds dear to his heart are the memorial and the retirement services on Saturday morning, under the thematic strand, Mutual Understanding. At the latter service three retired pastors, Anneta McIntosh, Burchel Taylor and Delroy Sittol, will be honoured; and at the former, the Union will ‘remember’ Baptist leaders who died in 2017.
There will be four major worship services, commencing with the opening service on Wednesday evening, to be addressed by the incumbent president Devon Dick, who treats with the topic, Mutual Respect. On Friday, General Secretary of the Schools and Colleges Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union (SCF/SU), Sheldon O' Connor, will deliver the sermon, guided by the thematic strand, Mutual Accountability. At the first service on Sunday, BWA Associate Director of Communication, Eron Henry, preaches on the topic, Mutual Dependency: Body Parts, while the newly installed President Kirlew closes the Assembly with a charge on Mutual Dependency: Body Builders.
Other major highlights of the Assembly include daily Bible studies; the Biennial David Jelleyman Lecture on the topic, Trinitarian Partnership, on Thursday morning; group discussions and workshops.
Contact: Karl B Johnson
General Secretary, JBU