The Archhbishop of York, Reverend Dr John Sentamu, will today preach at a service at the Webster Memorial Church in Kingston, to mark the beginning of Jamaica's celebration of 50 years of independence.
The archbishop and his wife, Margaret, as guests of the Jamaican Government and the Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, spent the past week visiting churches, schools, church projects, and sites of historical and cultural interest from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. Today's service marks the climax of their visit.
Commenting on his visit, Archbishop Sentamu said it was very good to meet the newly appointed minister of state for tourism and entertainment, Damion Crawford, and to hear of the new Government's commitment to developing not only tourism but also to seeing justice and equality spread right through the Jamaican society.
"Fairness and equality have always been very important to me, so I am encouraged to hear how open your Government is about these principles in these early days," he said.
Sentamu said when he met Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller last Friday, she reaffirmed her commitment to social justice and prosperity for everyone, "a commitment I saw in action on my last visit in 2007 when I spent three hours walking with her around her constituency".
50 not out
The archbishop referred to a visit to churches in Montego Bay and said he was impressed with how seriously the Christian people of Jamaica take the responsibilities of citizenship - especially in this Independence year.
"I told them last week that in cricketing terms this is 50 and not out. There is much to give thanks for, and no doubt much still to do in the quest for justice and equality in this most beautiful and creative of nations."
He also expressed appreciation to see how much progress had been made at St Mary's Preparatory and Infant School in Montpelier, St James. Archbishop Sentamu noted that the Reverend Tony Ottey had helped raise funds to build the school years ago when he was in England.
"A number of us from the Association of Black Anglican Clergy used to contribute. It was fantastic to see how much progress has been made and to see children with so much to offer. We hope to gather the funding to help them finish their current building work. "
Referring to the historic church building which had previously served as a cholera hospital for sick slaves before becoming the parish church, he said, "There is a need to preserve a place like that so as to keep the story alive - the story which tells of the past which led to the present from which we can look to the future."
He had high praises for the St Hilda's High School for Girls in Brown's Town, which has had more than 100 years of support from the Anglican church.
The archbishop also congratulated playwright Barbara Gloudon for this year's LTM national pantomime "Anansi and the Goat Head Soup'. "It is a vibrant, colourful, and dynamic production - a great night out. I was only sorry that there was no goat head soup available."
Archbishop Sentamu said he sees Christ in the wonderful people of Jamaica and find in them his sisters and his brothers.
"It is a privilege to share in these celebrations, and I shall return eager to encourage Jamaicans and others in the UK to come and enjoy this paradise island in the sun."
CAPTION: HAPPY TO BE HERE: Archbishop of York John Sentamu (third left) and his wife Margaret (fourth left) smile appreciatively after being greeted on arrival in Jamaica at the Sangster International Airport by regional director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Rosie Johnson (right), and State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford (second right). Also sharing in the moment are deputy director of tourism in charge of cruise events and attractions, Jason Hall (left), and chief of staff for Archbishop Sentamu, Reverend Malcolm McNaughton. - Photo by Barrington Flemming