The song “We’ve come this far by Faith” echoed through the halls of Hagley Park Seventh-day Adventist church as she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee from the 3rd to the 5th of December, 2021.
The 75th Anniversary celebrations, held under the theme, ‘Renewed, Retooled, Rekindled in the Spirit” was a rich celebration of God’s grace in the midst of the pandemic. “The theme”, said Church Pastor Omar Oliphant, “embodies the idea that Hagley Park has not only pivoted since the pandemic but it is actively embracing and strategically aligning itself for the post-pandemic era”.
The weekend’s activities began with a soul filling Friday evening vesper service where former Pastor Mansfield Edwards, the President for the Ontario Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, gave a focused message on the reason for our existence as expressed in 1 Peter 2:9. He charged the attentive audience to personally become engaged in soul winning and share a heartwarming experience with his neighbours which left the church enriched.
Not to be outdone, the Sabbath’s day's programme placed emphasis on the past, present and future of the church which had its genesis in Gretna Green, a community not too far from the current church location. The atmosphere was filled with gratitude, nostalgia and praises as members showed up in full support both virtually and in-person. Unfortunately, there were limitations due to the COVID-19 protocols but to God be the glory, the communications team facilitated the delivery of the weekend’s program on the various platforms.
Since his installation in 2018, several renovations to the temple: new roof, new windows, new ceiling, covered benches, new female bathroom, amongst other refurbishments. Therefore, on Sunday, the final day of the weekend celebrations, members and leaders of the church paused to rededicate the temple to the Lord with much gratitude to God for His leading, provisions and tender care. “The vision”, Pastor Oliphant stated, “ was to execute a service to the honour and glory of God that reflected the historical foundations and the future dimensions of church life; to rebrand Hagley Park for the 21st century”.
The church received support from the various conferences within the Jamaica Union as greetings were delivered by the Presidents or their representatives. The dedicatory sermon was done by Pastor Everett Brown, President, Jamaica Union Conference who challenged the church to keep the primary focus on the goodness, grace, might and power of Jesus Christ. He challenged the members to let love flow from the precincts of the sanctuary into every community.
As with every great idea, it is carried on the shoulders of stalwarts. The birth of Hagley Park was no different. The church began and continued on its impressive trajectory because men and women listened, answered and heeded the call of the Holy Spirit. Some of these members were awarded with a special ‘Diamond Jubilee Award’ on the final day of the anniversary weekend. The awardees included: Elder Harvey Hamilton, Sis. Pansey Gloria Lawrence, Elder Rupert Whittaker and Deacon Cephas Mittoo [posthumous], amongst others.
Because of their faithfulness, not only was the church birthed but a school was founded to provide Christian education; known then as the Hagley Park Intermediate School, now the Hagley Park Preparatory School. Decades later, this harmonious thinking led to the church’s vision for the glorious weekend celebrations which saw plans being put into place as early as June of 2021 and praise be to God, were able to come to fruition.
Our relentless adversary tried to thwart the success of the weekend however, thanks be to God he was defeated. Many challenges were experienced but host Pastor Oliphant shared that the main challenge was balancing varied interests and balancing the church diary. “In a dynamic and diverse church as Hagley Park, many voices exist and one has to enable each to have a voice and a place. Then the church had a major series happening at the same time which had all team members engaged in lectures and tutorial classes [and all the planning that comes with that].”
The name of the Lord was lifted up and praise echoed throughout the unforgettable 75th anniversary weekend celebrations. When asked to summarize the entire experience with one word, Pastor Oliphant quickly said, ‘transformative.’ “I’ve seen people grow, potentials unravelled, unseen talents optimized as the building was redone and the ministry retooled. God be praised!”