Sat | Mar 17, 2018

United Church mourns rare, gifted minister

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Straight-talking minister of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), the Reverend Henry Earl Thames, is dead.

Thames, described by the UCJCI as "a rare, gifted and self-effacing individual", and a special and celebrated treasure of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, made his transition while doing one of the acts of ministry he loved best, serving and interacting at youth camp, an activity he engaged in for 52 consecutive years.

He was equally instrumental in the formation of the UCJCI Young Adults Action Movement of which, at the time of his passing, he was an adviser.

A devoted and committed servant of Christ, Thames described his decades of ministry as "a celebration of marriage" - a vocational union which began with his ordination in 1964.

Thames served the United Church as pastor, moderator (twice); theologian; chairman of synodical committees; member of Christian Education, Finance and Property Committees; chairman of school boards and institutions, and lecturer at the International University of the Caribbean.

He was also the coordinator of the preliminary year for United Church theological students.

Thames was pivotal in the union of the Presbyterian and the Congregational Churches in 1965 to form the United Church in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and in 1992 the merger with the Disciples of Christ to form what is now the UCJCI.


UCJCI moderator, the Right Reverend Christopher Mason, argued that the passing of Thames was a great loss to the church.

"Indeed, it is true to say that Rev Thames is an institution within this United Church, and the UCJCI, throughout his years as minister, experienced added value through his leadership, commitment and contributions," said Mason.

In the meantime, the Reverend Norbert Stephens, UCJCI general secretary, noted the passion for children which marked the life of the 1959 Jamaican Rhodes Scholar.

"What has been clear throughout Rev Thames' long and outstanding career was his passion for children and young people, his advocacy for justice for the marginalised, his pursuit of high morals for the society and his push for evangelism for all.

"In fact, Rev Thames passed while carrying out his ministry to the youth of the church, who had gathered at the Madge Saunders Conference Centre in St Mary for their Youth Camp with its theme: 'Discipleship: Action - Not a Bag a Mout'," noted Stephens.

Thames has several publications to his credit, the latest being The Book of Revelation: A commentary for Lay Persons, published in 2015.