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Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Former Gleaner editor-in-chief Wyvolyn Gager making her mark on the Gleaner 180 signature board at the newspaper's 180th anniversary church service at the Kingston Parish Church yesterday.
The Rt Rev Dr Robert Thompson, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, blessing children at The Gleaner's 180th anniversary service at the Kingston Parish Church yesterday.

Gleaner marks 180th year with church service

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The gamut of gestures in speech and action that yesterday greeted the 180 milestone celebrations of the oldest media house in the Western Hemisphere suggested that The Gleaner Company has had a compelling effect anywhere in Jamaica where life unfolds.

Constant references by the Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, at a church service attended by scores of Jamaicans from all walks of life demonstrated that The Gleaner Company has served as the vigilant "watchman" over the period.

So infectious was the ambience of thanksgiving that permeated the air that prominent personalities from all three branches of governance - executive, legislature and judiciary - turned out to celebrate the company's pivotal energy that rallied Jamaica through its transitions from Emancipation to full sovereignty.

Influential members of the diplomatic

community, as well as leaders of the business corps, joined the board, management and staff members in the Holy Eucharist celebrating the 180th anniversary of The Gleaner Company at the Kingston Parish Church, downtown.

Gregory, in a challenging sermon, praised The Gleaner for surmounting more than its share of challenges and persevering in the good times and the bad to help shape Jamaica's future.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen noted that The Gleaner's refusal to acquiesce to the demands of different political administration over the period represented the potent legacy of the Jewish brothers, Jacob and Joshua deCordova co-founders of The Gleaner.

The company was established on September 13, 1834, weeks after the abolition of slavery that set the stage for the Apprenticeship system.

Lauding the company for its life-shaping influences in establishing initiatives such as the Spelling Bee and Peace and Love in Society, Sir Patrick characterised The Gleaner as being the voice of reason that has championed the cause for a truly independent Jamaica.

Sir Patrick noted that throughout its journey from Emancipation to Independence, the company has persevered without losing its relevance.

It was in this atmosphere of thanksgiving that Christopher Barnes, The Gleaner Company's managing director, heaped praise on the workers - past and present - as well as advertisers, vendors and contractors who helped to propel The Gleaner to its enviable place in the Jamaican psyche.

Barnes also sounded a promise that The Gleaner would continue to push the cause to ensure a free press in Jamaica.

Vann deCordova, the great- great-great-grandson of Jacob deCordova, left his home in Texas in the United States to share in the moment.

Dana Evan Kaplan, rabbi of the Congregation Shaare Shalom, said Jews continue to take pride that two of their own had played such a pivotal role in Jamaica with the establishment of The Gleaner Company.

Some of the personalities who attracted some of the highest levels of media coverage in recent years ditched differences and suspended political ambitions to participate with The Gleaner Company's longstanding chairman, Oliver Clarke.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller read the first lesson in the atmosphere of thanksgiving, and not long after, Andrew Holness, Simpson Miller's political rival, who sat beside her in the sanctuary, read the second lesson.

The essence of The Gleaner's existence over 180 years was eloquently captured in the very first hymn that was sung to get the celebratory service under way.

"Thy hand has guided

Thy flock from age to age;

Their wondrous tale is written

full clear on every page."

The Gleaner will publish a souvenir edition on Saturday, September 13, the newspaper's 180th birthday.

As fit as ever

As fit as ever