Restoring dignity to the nation - Main agenda of first female president of Jamaica Baptist Union
The restoration of dignity and what it means to Jamaicans will be on the agenda of Reverend Karen Kirlew when she becomes the first female president of the 169-year-old Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) on Sunday.
Being held under the theme 'Being God's People in God's World: Living in Partnership', Sunday's event is expected to address what she described as the lack of dignity that pervades the society.
"It is evident in the heightened rate of crime and violence. It is evident in how many choose to manipulate others to get ahead," Kirlew said in an interview with The Gleaner.
During her two-year stint, she hopes that there will be renewed focus on how the Church can facilitate new expressions of dignity in social interactions.
"In the ways we talk with each other without wanting to fight each other, in the ways we settle conflicts, in the ways we settle disputes, in human relations," she said.
The JBU is now 40,000-strong and for Kirlew, the Church is still relevant in contemporary Jamaica. The United Theological College of the West Indies graduate asserted that the JBU is guided by the collective legacy of National Heroes Samuel Sharpe, Paul Bogle, and George William Gordon, who were Baptist leaders.
She continued, "We are trying to ensure that we take on the mantle of creating a just society, of working towards improving the conditions of people's lives."
Kirlew has been a minister of religion for 15 years, and she is stepping into the new role with feelings of excitement and apprehension.
She noted: "The kind of encouragement that I'm getting is heartwarming, with the expectation of a tremendous sense of accomplishment."