Young people find comfort in the SDA Church
When compared to other religious organisations operating in the parish of St Mary, the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church appears to buck the trend by engaging and attracting a disproportionately large number of young members.
According to beauty therapist Shorna Williams, who attends the SDA Church in Oracabessa, young people in the region are attracted to the SDA ideology because the church targets them specifically.
She told Family and Religion: "The SDA church has a lot of programmes for young people, including things like sports day events and Pathfinder, which is something that's very structured and disciplined, almost like the cadets. We are very supportive of our young people and try to make them feel welcomed and appreciated.
"For me, I think that sense of welcoming comes from the SDA church being very family-orientated. That means when anyone comes in, especially young people, we tend to treat them extra-special because with all of the other temptations and distractions that are around, we know we have to have a lot of different activities they will find stimulating," she said.
"It's not just about preaching, although that is a very important part of the SDA church, but in order to keep young people interested, you must have programmes for them."
Accordingly, on Saturday, August 6, Williams' church is scheduled to host a youth homecoming event, which aims to attract and entice young, former members back into the fold.
Williams, whose favourite Bible scripture is Psalm 91, explained: "On Saturday, we're hosting a youth homecoming event at our church in Oracabessa. The event will be grand and we will have a special programme planned for young people.
"We're simply asking that former church members, both young and old come to church. Youth homecoming is aimed at our youngsters who used to be part of the church, but no longer attend. It's a great place to come because you will be fed with both spiritual and physical food."
As Williams, who has been a Christian since 2014, prepares for her church's youth event, she is mindful of the words of advice that should be offered to a young person considering joining the SDA church.
She said: "I would tell them not to lean on their own understanding. Pray, take it a step further if necessary and fast. Try to reach out to the church family and we will guide you because that decision is not one that can be made in haste.
"It really is a life-changing decision and therefore something you would have to think about. I would say, don't rush it, seek advice from the church family, and most of all, I think you should listen to the Holy Spirit because it will guide you."