Jamaican Adventists Online Church Inspires Hope Amidst COVID-19
Written by: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher, Administrative Assistant to the President, EJC | Friday, March 27, 2020
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica launched its first official online church dubbed JA Adventist Online with the theme, “We Still Have This Hope!” It was viewed by over Twenty thousand worshippers on Saturday, March 21, 2020 and became necessary in light of the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Pandemic and restrictions put in place by the Government of Jamaica which includes large public gathering.
With the closure of our approximately 740 congregations island-wide, members and visitors from various countries were able to join in an all-day live Sabbath service which was carried on NCU FM (91.1, 91.3, and 91.5), NCU TV (channels 188 and 617) Bless TV, and on the conferences’ and Jamaica Union websites and various social media platforms.
“Within a few months, weeks, days our daily routine have changed,” said Pastor Everett Brown, leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, in his live divine service broadcast from the East Jamaica Conference, headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica.
The President expressed that the novel COVID-19, Pandemic has threatened to derail every aspect of daily lives including the traditional Sabbath worship services. “But with every threat there is always an opportunity,” he said. “The disruptions have given us the opportunity to exercise our faith in God and our capacity to love and care for each other individually and collectively as the body of Jesus Christ.”
The disruptions he said, “have not only driven the church to be creative in its corporate worship on a Sabbath, but have forced us to take our eyes off those things that are temporary and transitory to focus on God and the eternal.”
Brown challenged the more than three hundred thousand membership of the Adventist church to “never forget who we are…we are a people of hope.”
The seven-and-a-half-hour worship service was maneuvered in into five segments with hosts: Mical Forsythe, Dannie Clarke, Theodore Henry, Adiese Jonas Murphy and Andrea Chisholm. It included interviews with presidents, pastors, directors and special guests on how the church is dealing with COVID-19 within their respective areas of service.
Songs of praise and hope interspersed the messages and discussions through the music ministry of Jewel Osbourne, Rafhalee and Kenya Hanson, Hilkiah Jones, Gamel Grant and Carey Sales.
Also highlighted, was one community in the Seven and Eight Miles in Bull Bay, St. Andrew which is currently under a quarantine by Government of Jamaica since Friday, March 13.
In this community resides 50 Adventists from four churches, which are affected within the jurisdiction of the East Jamaica Conference, to which Pastor Eric Nathan, is the president.
“The only way we can keep in touch with our membership during this time is to adopt the Jethro Plan,” said Pastor Nathan. “All that we (the pastors and elders) have been doing is to ask the unit leaders of the Sabbath School classes to keep in close contact with their class members through phone calls and social media platforms such as WhatsApp; as we will not lose contact with our members.”
Romean Smith, the pastor of the Harbour View District of Churches, which are affected by the quarantine; expressed, “We are trying to cope with the quarantine of our members. The members are maintaining a high spirit. They are praying, they are keeping their spiritual life active and with the assistance of the elders, we are keeping in constant contact with them.”
It was noted that throughout the service, that viewers on the YouTube, and the social media platforms were not silent as to each segment they typed ‘amen! glory! praise the Lord! and happy Sabbath!” The production team noted that the responses were coming from members and individuals across the island, parts of the Caribbean and from countries such as United States of America, England, Canada and China.
Laffaine Wiggan, a Jamaican Seventh-day Adventist in giving her testimony live from China, which has been on lock-down due to COVID-19 since February 3, 2020, said that even with the support of family who calls her almost every day, the experience has not been easy and one could get easily overwhelmed.
“For me it’s easy to say, don’t panic. However, in order to cope I had a prayer partner and she is in Japan. She is an NCU graduate, and a Seventh-day Adventist. We kept the communication line open where we checked in to ensure we supported each other. If I was down, she would encourage me, and I would do the same for her. So, find someone whom you trust that can be of strong support during this time,” explained Wiggan.
Elder Claudette Genas, Family Ministries Director for EJC noted that the COVID – 19 has caused us to slow down, “Let us use this time to pray together as a family. To worship together and even to play together.”
“I am happy for the day that we have come to” said Elder Nigel Coke, Communication Director at Jamaica Union Conference, who affirmed the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in emphasizing the use of technology, through its sixteenth year-long annual Global Adventist Internet Network Conferences.
“I am happy that now everyone is seeing what the work of the communication department is doing and what it will continue to do; because it is about technology and how the gospel will be carried into all the world according to Revelation 14.”
He further emphasized that God’s Church is not left behind as the preparations have been made through the GAIN conferences and the message has been, “look pay attention to this.”
The participants in novel experience of the online church service also included: Lesson study with Pastor Carl Cunningham, Personal Ministries and Sabbath School Director, EJC; Sharing His hope, Pastor Adlai Blythe, President of North-East Jamaica Conference; Education talk with Dr. Donna Brown, Education Director, EJC; Pastor Michael Henry, Education Director, JAMU and Dr. Lincoln Edwards, President of Northern Caribbean University.
The afternoon segment, commenced at 2:30 p.m. with a Bible class on the life of Job, presented by Omar Oliphant, Pastor of the Hagley Park District of Churches and Elder Joel Jackson; Discussion on the care of the pastorate with Pastor Leabert Williams and Dr. Joseph Smith,
Ministerial Secretaries from EJC and JAMU respectively; Communication talk with Elder Phillip Castel, Elder L. David Harris and Elder Nigel Coke, Communication directors from EJC, CJC and JAMU respectively; Health nuggets from Pastor Dudley Hosin, Health Ministries Director, JAMU and Dr. Michelle Hamilton, Naturopathic Doctor who also shared information on COVID -19.
The JA Adventists Online Church will continue to air its live broadcast of all-day Sabbath services commencing at 9:15 a.m. until the COVID – 19 restrictions have been lifted.
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