Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Methodists commemorate 230th Anniversary of Ministry in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Kingston, was named for Dr Thomas Coke, and is regarded as the "mother church of Methodism in Jmaica".
Gooden Benguche

Beginning today (Sunday January 20, 2019) with an open-air worship service at the Coke Methodist Church in Kingston, the Methodist Church in Jamaica will launch year-long activities to mark the 230th anniversary of the landing of Thomas Coke, a Methodist minister from the British Methodist Church, in Jamaica at Port Royal.

Hundreds of Methodists and friends from across the Jamaica District are expected to gather at the waterfront to participate in the launch activities, which will include a 'Cross the Harbour Sail' retracing the journey of the Rev'd Dr Thomas Coke as he arrived in Port Royal in 1789 and was taken by boat to Kingston. This re-enactment will include up to 30 participants, some in period costume.

As part of the re-enactment of Coke's arrival, ministers and members will meet the vessel when it docks at Victoria Pier at the bottom of Orange Street. A "Walk of Witness" will then ensue, with participants marching up to the historic Coke Memorial Methodist Church, where there will be a commemorative service of thanksgiving beginning at 11 a.m.

Bishop of the Methodist Church in Jamaica the Rev'd Christine Gooden Benguche says that "the Jamaica Methodist District will use the occasion to refocus on the historic mission of the Methodist Church "to spread scriptural holiness through the land" as it pertains to the particularities of the Jamaican context. The launch, Bishop Gooden Benguche said, "is only one of several activities being organised by the Jamaica District during the anniversary year".

Building on the evangelical work of slave women Mary Alley, Mary Leadbetter, and Sophia Campbell on the sugar estates in colonial Antigua, the practise of Methodism was first introduced to the Caribbean by Nathaniel Gilbert in Antigua in 1760, twenty-two years after it was founded by Anglican clerics John and Charles Wesley in England. The MCCA is the oldest Methodist movement outside of Great Britain with congregations in almost all English-, Spanish-, French-, and Dutch-speaking territories in the Caribbean.

The 1789 arrival of the Rev'd Dr Thomas Coke in Port Royal was the first of three trips to Jamaica as the Methodist movement was established in the Caribbean and the Americas.

"Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free; force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be" (George Matheson 1842-1906).