Adventists offer Instruments 4 Change Initiative as part of solution to help fight crime in Jamaica

Written by: Phillip E. L. Castell, Director- Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference (EJC) delivered on its promise to launch the Instruments 4 Change initiative, which at the heart of it, is designed to help reduce crime and violence in communities across Kingston and St. Thomas.

The historic event was held at the Heroes Circle Park on December 29, 2019 just chains away from the church’s Good Samaritan Inn located at 2 – 4 Geffrard Place in Kingston.

Hundreds of church members, musicians and people from the nearby communities surrounding the Heroes Park came by to enjoy a rich array of gospel music from talented singers in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church including Jewel Osbourne, Gamel Grant, Hilkiah Jones, Kencot Youth Choir, Humble, the EJC Mass Choir and others.

“I am excited and I am glad to know that as  a church, we can make a difference,” said Dr. Eric Nathan, president of the SDA Church in EJC, when he addressed the gathering on Sunday, prior to the launch of the Good Samaritan Inn School of Music during the launch of the Instruments 4 Change initiative. 

The top pastor of the Adventist Church in EJC gave credit to the Dean of

the Religion and Theology department at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) for stimulating the idea when he asked “how can the SDA Church help to reduce crime and violence in our country,” at a  forum  put on recently  by that University in Mandeville.

“I left from NCU and I decided that I am going to get on board with the school of Religion and Theology to do what we can to make a difference,” the president added. “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness,” he continued. “We might not be able to do a great thing, but in our own little way, we believe that what we can do, we should do it.”

The EJC president posited that the Instruments 4 Change initiative is in response to the call of the prime minister for public, private partnership.

“We believe that we should listen to the call of the prime minister. He is asking for public, private partnership and we have listened and we are responding.”

Pastor Eric Nathan called upon all the music teachers and musicians within the churches under his leadership to use the rich musical talent existing in the church to interface with the young men and women within the communities   to effect positive change.

Music Coordinator in the EJC, Adiese Jonas Murphy who provided more details for how the Instruments 4 change initiative would work said EJC is committed to nation building and believe that music can provide a critical role in crime reduction and social reform.

“We are offering this as a part of the solution to fighting crime to the government of Jamaica,” Murphy said when she addressed the gathering on Sunday.

 “We want to be active participants in nation building and this we hope to do by using music positively to change how youths and other perpetrators of crime perceive the world and our nation,” she added. “This by no means would solve the issues we face overnight but it can definitely aid the process of change,” Murphy said.  

In providing details on the timeline for the roll out of the Instruments 4 Change Initiative, Murphy said  that as of January 1, 2020, a music education volunteers band would be officially created where music educators from Northern Caribbean University (NCU), the Jamaica School of Music and trained musicians from the EJC territory will be officially registered as tutors for the Instruments 4 Change initiative.  Through the initiative, the band will avail themselves as instruments in partnership with other institutions, to teach community members how to play musical instruments.

Murphy provided more details when she disclosed that the Instruments 4 Change initiative will be launching schools of music in three areas across the EJC constituency. These include the Good Samaritan Inn, the Kingsway Prep & High School located at 10  - 12 Osbourne Road in Kingston and the Miramar Prep. School located in Morant Bay, St. Thomas.  

Between January and May 2020, members of the church will be asked to donate musical instruments in good condition for the use of the initiative. Cash and cheque donations will also be accepted.

By June of 2020 it is expected that music classes will begin in all three locations which would by then be outfitted with all the musical instruments they require. Classes are expected to be held twice per week.

Official music courses are expected to begin in July 2020 with courses running from six to eight weeks and participants being certified at the end of their course of study.

Dr. Vivienne Quarrie, Vice President for Academic Administration- NCU

who spoke on behalf of the president of NCU, congratulated the leadership of EJC for undertaking this venture and understanding it as a call from God to go into the highway and edges to find all those who are in need of help.

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