St Mary Adventists reach out to the community
According to Ephesians 4:32, we should: "...be kind to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you" and consequently, every year, the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church hosts a series of events entitled 'Week of Generosity and Day of Kindness.'
Executive secretary and treasurer at the North East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Pastor Adlai Blythe believes the event offers the Church an opportunity to lead by example in the field of community service.
He told Family and Religion "The Week of Generosity and Day of Kindness was started by the [SDA] World Church who saw the need to have one day of special community impact where we go beyond the regular kind gestures we do and offer something significant.
"It's a part of a national initiative to administer to the social needs of the community in a more significant way because the SDA Church is not just about the spiritual; we cater for all needs, including education and health.
"Separate and apart from the usual outreach that we do on a regular basis, we have an annual day of kindness for our major projects where we identify needs in our communities and minister to those needs on a much broader scale than we normally do.
"Each year, we identify a project. Last year, we helped renovate police stations across the island, and the year before that we did the infirmaries in Portland and St Mary. This year, we delivered an outreach project targeting the community of Annotto Bay in St Mary, alongside the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the National Housing Trust, the police, and a team of medical practitioners."
Having spent time ministering in Annotto Bay, Blythe is well aware of the positive influence the SDA's programme can have on one of the most underdeveloped towns in the parish. He explained: "We chose Annotto Bay because I served there as pastor and know there are a lot of low and no-income families that need assistance, so we used the opportunity to reach out to them.
"It turned out to be a really good day because we provided heath checks for about 100 people, food for 300, and got to sensitise the community about the benefits of things like the National Insurance Scheme and the National Housing Trust."
Looking ahead, Blythe is preparing for more projects throughout St Mary in the coming weeks, including another mobile health clinic and a gospel concert in Robin's Bay on November 12.
He said: "We try to do health seminars on a monthly basis and have one coming up in Geddes Town on 5th November. It's a collaboration with different arms of the health department, so we do checks, deliver pamphlets, and try to sensitise the community about how to better care for themselves and their environment; how to avoid contagious diseases; and how to use natural remedies to cure minor illnesses."