'Fire cannot stop the praises'
ORACABESSA, St Mary:
A passionate preacher whose St Mary church was razed to the ground has revealed plans to construct a new house of worship in the next three months on the same spot where the Boscobel Seventh-Day Adventist Church and its contents were destroyed four weeks ago.
Speaking from his home in Port Maria, pastor of the Oracabessa Seventh-Day Adventist District of Churches in St Mary, Roland Vassell, said although the fire had destroyed the church and many important documents, he was confident that its 70 members could look forward to a new building early in 2017.
He told Family and Religion last week: "The North East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists have plans to organise a building for this new church. We're hoping that it can be erected by March, and we will use a tent until then. We have seen some pictures of what the new building will look like and are optimistic that a great result will be accomplished."
Recalling the moment that he heard that the church was on fire, Vassell said: "That morning [20 November], I was getting ready to attend the funeral of the mother of the First Elder Denzel Murray, which was supposed to be at 11 a.m. When I got the phone call at about 9 a.m., I was told that the church was on fire. It was shocking and a bit strange. I went straight to Boscobel, but within about 15 minutes, I was told the church had been flattened.
"A group of us went up there and a large number of persons had gathered. Firemen were still trying to put the fire out and church members were still trying to take up bits and pieces, but the chairs were the only things left.
"We lost all the records, the membership book, Baptist log book, baptismal certificates, child dedication certificates, all the items in the kitchen, and barrels with food items and clothes. Up to this point, we still don't know what caused the fire."
Vassell noted that members and residents from the local community rallied around to help with the clean-up effort so that services were able to be resumed within a week.
He explained: "The First Head Deacon, Brother Ewart Wilson, Brother Delson Paisley, and President of the Western St Mary Youth Federation Sister Carla Jackson-Brown worked extremely hard, ensuring the restoration of the church and encouraging others in the community to show interest.
"Also, in spite of Elder Denzel Murray's grief at losing his mother, who was buried the same day as the fire, he has shown great concern for his church and spent the entire week ensuring that things have been done in terms of cleaning up.
"In 2017, we are looking forward to more revivals and we are supposed to have some ongoing evangelistic campaigns and mass
visitations because we are a church that is loved by the community because it serves the community."
He added: "We've received calls from people from all over the word expressing sorrow for what took place. From the US, Canada, and England, people have been calling on WhatsApp and Facebook and sending gifts to help with the restoration, so there is great hope. We are a praying church, and by God's will, as we continue praying, we are hopeful that God will work great things for us."