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EJC President Suggests “Change the Template” at National Church Service to launch Local Government and Community Month 2022

Top government ministers in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development came together to worship God and give thanks for their accomplishments over the past year and to launch Local Government and Community Month 2022 at their National Church Service held at the Kencot SDA Church on November 5, 2022.

East Jamaica Conference| Phillip Castell

Top government ministers in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development came together to worship God and give thanks for their accomplishments over the past year and to launch Local Government and Community Month 2022 at their National Church Service held at the Kencot SDA Church on November 5, 2022.


The service was held under the theme ‘Reigniting a nation for Greatness Through Local Government’ and was attended by high-ranking officials from both the government and the opposition party and included Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Senate and Houses of Representatives, the US Ambassador, Mayors and Councillors.


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Pastor Meric Walker, president of the East Jamaica Conference, addresses local government officials and congregation during the launch of Local Government and Community Month 2022 at the Kencot SDA Church on November 5, 2022. :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell


Hon. Marcia Bennett, Custus Rotolarium for the parish of St. Thomas represented the Governor General, His Excellency The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, and read his message which highlighted the important role local government plays in the country. 


In his message, Sir Patrick Allen said, “Local government plays an integral role in the life and experience of all Jamaicans because it operates at a level that touches people's lives daily.”  The Governor General further stated that the municipality provides the physical infrastructure that promotes social cohesion, local identity, health and well-being in all the parishes. 


Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, though not able to attend the service physically, conveyed deep appreciation in a pre-recorded video message to the men and women who worked in local government and assisted the country in its recovery after the recent COVID-19 epidemic that impacted the island over the past two years.


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Honourable Marcia Bennett, Custos Rotulorum for the Parish of St. Thomas representing the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell


President of East Jamaica Conference, Pastor Meric Walker, commended those who made the decision to serve their country in local government and posited that they could have chosen to be elsewhere.


“You could be a lecturer, you could be in other ministries, you could have migrated to greener pastures but you have chosen the toughest job in Jamaica, to manage local government," Walker said. He  highlighted that  much  selfishness abounds in our nation which is seen  daily in our gullies, in our schools  and communities.  "Gully is not for garbage, school is not for stabbing, house is not for hostage. We are shooting ourselves in the feet," Walker lamented.  


The Minister of the Gospel  highlighted some of the challenges being faced in the country and pointed out that we are living in a sinful environment. “You put up light for people to see but the light is taken and darkness is left all around. You put down a bench for people to rest their feet and the bench is taken. You put up a rail and the rail is missing. You put up a gate and the gate is lifted. We are living and ministering in the precinct of sinfulness”, he added.


The church pastor encouraged government leaders and members of the church to be courageous. “We need as never before, courageous leaders,” he said. “I challenge you,  that in the face of a precinct  that is tainted by sin, leaders must not be discouraged but arise, take on the task, because by the grace of God it can be done and the coorporation and the municipalities can do more than you have ever done before.”


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In foreground, (L-R) His Worship the Mayor, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, Mayor of Kingston & St, Andrew, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Kamelia Johnson Smith, Minister of Trade, Senator Aubyn Hill :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell


Need for connection to the first local government minister

After relating a story of someone trying without success to jump start a motor vehicle that was in the wrong mode ( D- Drive), Pastor Walker made the analogy of Jesus Christ being the source of power and first local government minister and intimated that  Jamaica can overcome all obstacles and  be jump started  if we are connected to Christ.  “If we are trying to build local government in a context of sinfulness  (wrong Mode) and we are  not connected to the life source ( Jesus Christ) the first local government minister, then we will be trying and trying but we will be failing,” Walker said.


Noting that we are in a society where there is a vicious cycle of bad goals, bad actions, bad seeds, bad results.  Walker proposed the solution as, “Bad goals must be intercepted by good goals the virtuous cycle. “Bad actions by good actions. Bad seeds by good seeds, bad results by good results.”



But How ? Change the Template.

“I believe we must change the template. Values and education are critical from the formative level. We must change the template. “Light up the digital billboards with values that will build the nation,” Walker suggested. “Let us see it in Half Way Tree, Let us see it in May Pen, Let us see it in St. Ann.”  The preacher of righteousness had more suggestions which he believes could have a positive impact on the  nation. “Engrave it in the parks. Put it on the pages of the printed media. Have a value celebration week. Deploy more exemplary youth in leadership.”  His recommendation was simply to “Change the template.”


Speaking directly to the government officials and ministers, Pastor  Walker reminded them that their work  on earth will not be forever. “One day, the earthly local government will come to an end and the original minister will put in his appearance again and take over the reign. Your work is not forever”.


Referencing 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1 which points to a new heaven and a new earth, Pastor Walker concluded that “the first local government minister will be the last local government minister because He will reign forever and ever and I want to be there to look in his face,” Walker said.


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Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell

Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development was elated to have the service this year for obvious reasons.
“This is the first occasion we have had in almost three years to celebrate the commencement of local government month since Covid-19 restricted our activities over the last two and a half years,” he said during his remarks. “ I am happy we could commence the month with praises to God.”


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Mrs. Natalie Neita Garvey, Representing Mr. Mark Golding, Leader of the Opposition :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell


Mrs. Natalie Neita Garvey, Member of Parliament, representing Mr. Mark Golding, Leader of the Opposition encouraged those in attendance to “give thanks and praise to God for He is indeed a good God.”   The message that she read from the Opposition Leader acknowledged the challenging conditions and limited resources  which local government  workers are often faced with. “I lift my hat to them for giving yeoman service to the people of Jamaica under these circumstances.”    Mark Golding took the opportunity to appeal for greater resources to be allocated for people to be served in their communities.


His Worship Councillor Winston Maragh, Mayor of  May Pen and President of the the Local Government Authorities in Jamaica (ALGA) invited leaders to be more vigilant about environmental sustainability as the nation creates a path towards the Jamaican vision.


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Mayor of Kingston & St. Andrew, His Worship, Senator Delroy Williams. :: Photo credit: Phillip Castell


In his greetings, Mayor of Kingston & St. Andrew, His Worship, Senator Delroy Williams thanked the church for the role it has played in the municipality in the area of homelessness and implored the church to continue and even expand its work in this area.  “Today homelessness is an issue within municipalities and cities across the  globe and requires real serious attention,”  Williams said when he brought greetings at the service.  “We are aware that the church and its affiliates, including universities across the world can bring  a lot to bear on the issue of homelessness in terms of research and finding solutions to the various issues surrounding homelessness and in particular the transitioning those persons from homelessness  back into a normal life.”


Williams commended the church for the role it has played in the field of disaster preparedness, management and recovery through the affiliates of the church including ADRA (Adventist Disaster Relief Agency) which for many years has played a significant role in disaster preparedness management and recovery.


“The municipality has a vision and it is important that the church embraces this vision,” said Williams. "The vision of the municipality is to make Kingston the pearl of the Antilles, the light of the Caribbean."


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