Top church leaders of the Andrews Memorial SDA Church along with the leadership of East Jamaica Conference joined in celebrating with over two hundred students who successfully completed nine weeks of Bible teaching dubbed the ‘Advent Message Masterclass’ at the graduation exercise held at the church on October 28, 2023. The graduation ended the successful staging of a comprehensive course of study that was organized by the elders and leaders of the church during the period September 3, 2023, to October 28, 23.
President of East Jamaica Conference, Pastor Meric Dale Walker was very proud of what transpired at the church over the past weeks and noted that “new frontiers had been broken.” “I am one hundred percent proud of what has transpired here at Andrews Memorial,” Walker said in his congratulations to Pastor Oliphant and his team.
Emphasizing the importance of The Advent Message Masterclass in helping members know what the church teaches and believes, President Walker said the time in which we live demands more than surface Christianity where we just go through the motions to have church and go home. “With what we see happening in Jamaica, the brutality, the escalation of crime and violence, the immorality on every side, we have to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering and stand strong so that we can be a beacon in a dark Kingston and St. Andrew,” he said with all his heart.
Lecturer of the Advent Message Masterclass and Senior Pastor of the Andrews Memorial SDA Church, Pastor Omar Z. D. Oliphant, was more than pleased at the huge impact the classes had on those who participated. “The powerful impact of the study was evidenced by the high enrollment and participation that characterized the weekly classes,” Oliphant said. “Over 450 individuals registered for the program with over 280 persons attending our tutorial classes on Wednesdays including numerous persons from other faith groups and denominations,” said Oliphant. “It was an exhilarating experience to witness the integration of various age groups, ministries, and a diverse mix of Adventists and non-Adventists engaged in the studies.” The classes had the objective of “seeking the lost and keeping the saved and to God be the glory 22 persons were baptized as a direct result of the Advent Message Master Class,” he added.
One of the first people to be baptized because of the teachings received through the studies spoke glowingly about her experience at the start of the graduation exercise. “I have been truly blessed to participate in this series and not only become a member of this church but a Seventh-day Adventist because of what I learned and experienced during this Masterclass,” said Marcia Bent. “I was trying to find a church home for many years and even gave up searching because I never felt welcomed,” Bent said. “The only thing I knew about the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that your members did not work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturdays,” she said with a smile. “Throughout my time in the Adventist Master Class, I gained an awareness and appreciation for this amazing movement. I felt God’s movement and presence throughout every single sermon,” she added.
Nine-year-old Emma Allen also confirmed that she too learned a lot over the nine weeks that she was a student at the Master Class. “Over the past nine weeks, I have learned a lot from the lectures and the tutorials. Uncle Aaron provided age-appropriate answers to my questions, and I enjoyed the quizzes which were structured to make me get a hundred percent even if it was on the second try,” Emma said with a big grin on her face. The church erupted into laughter when she made that response.
Latisha Johnson from the Andrews Memorial SDA Church spoke highly of the Advent Message Masterclass and referred to it as a premier master class that provided qualitative information from the Word of God. “For the past nine weeks, I was taught, challenged, and empowered with information that has helped me to understand my ‘why’, as in why I am in this relationship with my creator. The teachings from our lecturer, Pastor Z. D. Oliphant will not just resonate for immediate effect, rather, the impact is one that has futuristic undertones. The lectures have been a reinforcement of the fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” she added.
In commending Pastor Oliphant on his successful staging of the Adventist Masterclass, the guest speaker for the graduation exercise, Dr. Milton Gregory, said he was very proud of the work and contribution Oliphant had given to the church. “The Andrews Church has always been an innovative church and it seems to have the best pastors,” Gregory said with his characteristic smile noting that he was a former pastor at the church. Dr. Gregory publicly commended Oliphant for his innovation and understanding of what the church needs. “Today I am just pleased with what I am seeing, it's amazing, and I must commend the pastor, the board, and the team members who executed this program.” Gregory recommended to Pastor Walker that other churches be encouraged to adopt a similar model to take the Advent message far and wide.
The Advent Message Masterclass was an extensive study that was focused on the seven core teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church including the Second coming, the Seventh-day Sabbath, salvation by faith, stewardship of mind, temple talent, and treasure, the state of the dead, spirit of Prophecy and the Sanctuary. Lectures were done on Sabbath mornings, evenings, and Sunday evenings while tutorials were done on Wednesday evenings via Zoom. Participants included several members from other faith groups who all found the material to be informative and interesting.
On November 8, 2023, ten days after the Advent Message Masterclass ended, Sis. Eleonor Brown who resides in Florida and who was a participant online, came to Jamaica just to be baptized at the Andrews Memorial SDA Church by Pastor Oliphant. Brown was determined to seal her destiny with the Lord and to begin this new journey in Christ based on the truths that were revealed to her through The Advent Message Master Class.
The success of the Advent Message Masterclass was based upon Pastor Oliphant sharing his vision and receiving buy-in and support from his highly motivated and dedicated team of over fifty members who served as administrators, principals, tutors, and assistant tutors to the hundreds who signed up for the classes. Elder Leighton Whyte served as Class Administrator while Elders Cecile Cooper and Keith Nugent served as principals.
The graduation service was attended by JAMU Youth Director Pastor Dane Fletcher, EJC Treasurer, Elder Michael Porteous, and former JAMU ADRA Director Pastor Brown.
At the time of this post, Pastor Omar Z.D. Oliphant is the first and only Centurian pastor in the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.