St Andrew Parish Church turns 350
According to vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, Jamaica needs to resume its leadership role in the Caribbean to foster the continued growth and development of the region, and declare a war on poverty.
Sir Hilary was the guest speaker at a dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the St Andrew Parish Church at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel last Friday (June 5). Sir Hilary said, "if Jamaica does not do well, the Caribbean cannot do well. The smaller islands, in particular, are in need of the stimulus of Jamaica rising."
Noting that having celebrated its 50th anniversary of Independence in 2012, Jamaica is in the second phase of nation building, the vice chancellor added that the UWI is committed to playing its part - providing the educated populace which is key to economic and social development.
Sir Hilary said that, going forward, Jamaica needs to declare a war on poverty and develop a plan to eradicate poverty, including ensuring proper housing for the poor.
While noting that Jamaica must focus on generating wealth and improving the economy, he said, "We must also keep poverty eradication at the centre of our plans, and take note of a worrying trend for the region in the incidence of chronic diseases, with close to 70 per cent of persons over the age of 50 being either hypertensive or diabetic, or both."
He added, "Black people in the Caribbean are among the most unhealthy people in the world with respect to chronic diseases." He called on the church and other institutions to be an advocate for change and cultural sensitivity around these issues.
He congratulated the St Andrew Parish Church on its programmes dedicated to improving the lot of the poor, and called on the "Church as a whole to renew its efforts to be less tolerant of poverty, and everyone in Jamaica to resolve not to accept increasing poverty as the norm."
Applauding the St Andrew Parish Church on its 350th anniversary, He declared, "Any institution that insists on human compassion must be supported. Three hundred and fifty years of this church has resulted in triumph of adversity and the rise of enlightenment."