Two Anglican theologians will visit Jamaica to participate in an ecumenical symposium next Monday, to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Jamaica Church Missionary Society (JCMS).
They are the Reverend Drexel Gomez, retired Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies, and the Reverend Canon Paul Avis, general secretary of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity. They will join members of the local Christian community in exploring new approaches to missionary activity, in keeping with the changing social environment.
The symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston is part of the year-long anniversary activities, which will be launched on Sunday, March 20, with a service at the Spanish Town Cathedral.
The JCMS is the recognised missionary agency of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
The high-level panel of speakers for the symposium includes religious leaders, who will set the tone for the workshop discussion on the mission responsibility of the Church to "act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:1-6).
The keynote presenter, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, will be supported by four respondents - the Reverend Donald Reece, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston; the Reverend Dr Marjorie Lewis, President, United Theological College of the West Indies; the Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, President, Jamaica Theological Seminary; and the Reverend Kenute Francis, Anglican Rector of St John's Church, Ocho Rios.
An advocate for ecumenism, the Rev Canon Paul Avis, will bring an international perspective to the deliberations. Canon Avis has written numerous theological books and articles. These include a 2005 publication titled, A Ministry Shaped by Mission, which presents a new model for the work of the Christian Church in the community; and his most recent publication, Reshaping Ecumenical Theology.
Participants in the workshop sessions will address issues of justice and governance; the church's role in correcting social inequalities which marginalise the majority of the population; evangelism and social transformation and the nurturing of a caring family of believers, who reflect God's compassion in their relationship with others.
Chairman of the JCMS and Suffragan Bishop of Mandeville, the Reverend Dr Harold Daniel, explained that the symposium was being organised in response to the changing social reality which demands a holistic approach to ministry and mission that will engage both ordained and lay members of the Christian Church in promoting spiritual, emotional and personal development in their respective communities.
"You are not Church just by keeping church," Bishop Daniel asserted. The symposium, he said, was designed to change the mindset of the whole Church and re-awaken commitment to Christian service.
The Jamaica Church Missionary Society was founded in 1861 and charged with fulfilling the mandate given by Jesus in the Great Commission (St Matthew 28: 18-20) to take the Gospel to the whole world.