Family with voices
GAYLE, St Mary:
The Gayle Police and Citizens Interaction Awards Ceremony, which took place recently at the True Missionary Church in Lucky Hill, St Mary, featured many highlights, but a group of local gospel singers were arguably the most entertaining.
The event, which was held under the theme 'Recognising our Local Heroes,' proved to be a double celebration for the family group from nearby Jeffrey Town, as in addition to performing, sisters Oshea and Racquel Thomas both collected awards for their commitment to community service work.
After delivering a thoroughly moving rendition of 'Till the Storm Passes,' lead vocalist and the sisters' mother, Maxine Solay-Riley, praised the event's organisers and pleaded for residents to help develop safer and more cohesive communities by working closer together.
She told Family and Religion: "Events like this, which pay tribute to local citizens and the police, are very important. For one, today's main theme was about how important it is for citizens and the police to interact, interface, and develop a good working relationship, so that people can feel a sense of security and freedom.
"You should be able to freely deal with the police from both a security point-of-view and a human standpoint. People should not just see them as people to dread, even though that might be the case in some instances. But there are also police officers who are great human beings."
Solay-Riley, who has been a member of the New Testament Church of God in Jeffrey Town for the last 35 years, believes that for St Mary to reach its full potential, the parish's many churches would have to integrate much further and deeper.
She explained: "Jesus Christ lived and while He was on earth, taught that unity was very important. All of us, in spite of our creed or doctrine, are one in Christ. So if we are representing Christ, who Himself exhibited [unity], then of course, we should be united.
"I'm not sure there are any real religious issues in St Mary, but I would like the religious groups to be united in a real way and sense to the point where it would not be an issue for them to put aside their agendas and come together for a particular assembly, day, or common cause."
The charismatic singer, whose favourite scripture is Philippians 4:13, added: "I think there is a lot more that can be done, and an event like this is a good example because no denomination was really represented here. But Christians were very much involved and if you notice, nobody went up to say 'I am from this or that church,' so we see that today, by example, there is some amount of unity for a common cause."