The inclement weather would not deter scores of Seventh-day Adventists from across the four western parishes in Jamaica from converging on Grange Hill, Westmoreland, on Saturday, May 5.
The Adventist Church in the western part of the island organised a community impact programme in light of the recent spate of violence in Grange Hill and surrounding communities.
It was not church as usual. The worship services were altered and members of the Fullersfield, Grange Hill, and Word of Hope churches visited the communities affected, meeting, praying, and counselling with individuals.
In the afternoon, members again took to the streets for a rally at the Marcus White Transport Centre at Morgan's Bridge in Grange Hill. They were accompanied by the West Jamaica Conference Marching Band, Westmoreland chapter, complemented by the Sandy Bay Church Marching Band from the neighbouring parish of Hanover.
"We have lost our way, we have lost the 'book of rules', parents are no longer in charge of their children, they are no longer in charge of the home," charged keynote speaker Pastor Charles T. Brevitt, stewardship and trust services director.
"We want men whose brains control their impulse, we want fathers and mothers to take charge of the home, making family a priority.
"We want men who will provide for their families, who will be the priest in their homes, who will be the mentor, where they command their children and their household after them," said Brevitt.
Delgado Black, pastor of the Grange Hill district of churches, one of the organisers of the event, said, "It is heart-rending. When I visited the families and areas affected and saw what was happening, it drove me to call for this activity. As I prayed with and counselled individuals affected, I am convinced that we need divine intervention."
Member of Parliament Dr Wykeham McNeill, who was present for the rally, said, "I'm really thankful to the members of the church, those from Grange Hill who are here, and those from the wider Jamaica, to have come today to show their support, to show their willingness to work with us to overcome this hurdle.
"This problem we have here in Grange Hill could happen anywhere in Jamaica, and so we need to work together to build stronger communities, to build more cohesiveness, and a stronger country," McNeill added.
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The West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists launched a youth mentorship programme in March 2017, with the objective of 14,000 Adventist youth each mentoring another young person in their respective communities.
In addition, approximately 100 Pathfinders from various churches across the territory also participated. The Pathfinder Club is an arm of the Youth Ministries department of the church that incorporates young people (members and non-members) between 10 to 15 years old.
Pastor Vincent Rose, youth ministries director for the conference, said, "I take this very personal, because this is the community where I was born.
"From all indication, the youth are some of the main perpetrators of crime in our country. As a church, we have some facilities that we must make available to the community in order to help with the short- and long-term solutions.
"We must focus on the youth in our society. The gangs are recruiting them, having responsible adults and youth mentoring them is key," said Rose.