Bethel Tabernacle United celebrates 66 years
The celebration to mark its 66th anniversary last Sunday may not have been as elaborate as last year's 65th, but the occasion was just as meaningful for the membership of the Bethel Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church, located on James Avenue in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
Bishop O'Garth McKoy, pastor at the church since June 2006, presided over the proceedings.
The cutting of a cake to mark the occasion was done before a large congregation which turned out for the occasion, where visiting speaker Dr Lindon Johnson referred to the book of Numbers, Chapters 13 and 14, as his base to deliver the message of faith, based on the story of Caleb.
From its humble beginnings in 1951 when Pastor Norman Houslin (now deceased) had just six in the congregation to over 800 now, Bethel Tabernacle has grown not just in membership, but also in its outreach to the community.
Over the past year, Bethel Tabernacle has been active in many areas of the community, stretching far beyond its Ocho Rios and even its St Ann borders.
According to general secretary Bridgette DaCosta: "Over the past year, we have tried our best to be heavily involved where outreach is concerned."
She went on to outline some of the activities the church has been involved with.
"We had a street service in Pineapple (Place), where a killing took place recently. We do outreach services; we have a vibrant programme for the shut-ins and over the past few years, we have been hosting a back-to-school event in collaboration with a past member of the church, Bridgette Sophia Sharpe, who now lives overseas. Each year she would send stuff, and this is not only for Bethel, but for the community. So we have been trying to give back to the community in various ways."
The church's Care Ministry caters to those who need help, both in and out of the church, while the vibrant Para Ministry caters to business places which might request prayer.
As the name suggests, the Hospital Ministry has scheduled visits to the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital, while the Prison Ministry also makes planned visits to the Richmond Farm Correctional Centre in Richmond, St Mary.
"We do try in different ways to be active in the community," said DaCosta.
One of the main events that has come to be associated with the church over the years is Hundredth Psalm, an annual 'Singspiration' that sees visiting choirs and groups come together to minister in prayer. The event is held each year at the Buckfield playfield in Ocho Rios, as does the annual health fair which has taken place for the past two years. Both events are free of charge.
As the church begins its 67th year in existence, DaCosta is happy for the work being done by the organisation.
"As a church, we have a lot to celebrate as we give God thanks," she said.