Family and women’s ministries in East Jamaica Conference have grown stronger than they were before, after the joint Family Ministries and Women, Children and Adolescents Ministries Retreat that was held at the Grand Palladium Hotel during the week-end of October 12 -16, 2023.
While the two departments are led by different directors both decided to retreat at the same venue even though their theme and emphasis were different over the week end. The family ministries department retreated under the theme ‘A taste of Paradise’ while the women’s ministries department was focused on the theme ‘Collecting Memories, Cementing Relationships.’
In reflecting on the retreat experience this year, Elder Claudette Genas, women, children and adolescent ministries director disclosed that this year, emphasis was placed on the young ladies in Girls of Eloquence Morals and Standards ministry (GEMS) because she knows the girls have great potential that should be nurtured and encouraged.
“These young women have demonstrated the promise and potential of our church and community and they have shown significant growth as they walk their own paths of faith and leadership being confident that God has extraordinary plans for their lives,” Genas said in her welcome address to those gathered at the retreat.
Genas, who has been at the helm of the department for the past thirteen years, used the occasion to affirm and recognize twenty-one individuals who gave support to the growth and development of women’s ministries in the Conference as well as the GEMS ministry that was has now been in existence for the past twelve years.
Nine (9) certificates and twelve (12) plaques were presented in recognition for the strong support and contribution to the women’s ministry department as well as GEMS ministry of SDA church in EJC. Among those who received certificates were Dorna Parker, Rosaline Salmon, Angela Tate, Nathania Campbell, Wendy-Ann Hewitt, Miranda Pitt, Lorna Duncan, Olga Wynter Gordon & Eulalee Wilson.
Those awarded with plaques for their work in GEMS ministries include Vimarann Boyne, Yonique Gordon, Shamau Williams, Shireka Campbell & Gabrielle Davis. Women who received recognition for their outstanding contribution to women’s ministry include Angela Tate, Markion Stanbury and Avis Graham.
Four men were recognized for their unwavering support to their spouses in ministry by the women’s ministry department. The men include Elder Michael Vernal, husband of Dr. Lorraine Vernal, Women, Children & Adolescent Ministry director at Jamaica Union, Elder Aston Genas, husband of Elder Claudette Genas, Pastor Phillip Castell, husband of Dr. Yvette Castell, EJC GEMS Coordinator and Elder Lawrence Graham, husband of Sis. Avis Graham from the Sandy Park SDA Church.
The week-end was intentionally designed to allow time for rest and relaxation but there was no shortage of worship and great spiritual refreshing at the retreat. On Friday evening at sunset over one hundred persons gathered in the Hanover Meeting Room to begin the Sabbath in worship to the Lord. Participants were encouraged by Shepherdess Christine Francis to make the time “to create positive memories for their children and family members because these memories are what will take them through their life.”
Dr. Lorraine Vernal, in keeping with the theme of creating positive memories posited that church should be a place that fosters and cause people to have good memories as many people live in unpleasant and difficult circumstances.
“Those of us who come to know Jesus must help people to have nice memories because for some people, the only place they get a little niceness is at church,” Vernal said when she addressed the gathering on Sabbath. “We must reinforce positive things in our lives so we can have positive influences and create good memories,” she added.
Pastor Adrian Johnson, family ministries director and his wife Genevieve led out in a conflict management session and noted that “we all need to understand how to handle conflict as we are likely to be faced with conflict at home, the workplace and even in church.” His focus on their theme of “A taste of paradise” was brought to life through a skit representing the conversation between Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Couples were encouraged by the help of God to bring back the love into their marriage so they can enjoy their relationship as God had intended it to be in the first place before the entrance of sin.
The retreat was attended by the three administrators of the Conference and their wives who all made participated in various segments of the week-end activity. President of the Conference, Pastor Meric Walker was pleased with work of both Pastor Adrian Johnson and Claudette Genas and affirmed Genas as a “wonder woman” who continues to make significant contribution in the Conference.