Church schools must not abandon heritage
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Regarding the minister of education's stance on devotions in schools, I write on behalf of the Ecumenical Education Committee, which comprises nine church bodies and trust that own and sponsor schools.
We wish to express agreement with the minister's stance. He rightly reminded the public that 40 per cent of the nation's public schools are church or trust-connected. It is not by chance that we are involved in education.
Keep in mind the Church's mandate to teach and make disciples of all. As a consequence, all church or trust-related schools have a distinct ethos that is Christian, and which is reflected in the discipline and other values that obtain in such schools. The devotional exercises help to further such values that impact upon the atmosphere of our schools.
By no means are we advocating proselytism (forced conversion), but rather an ethos that aims at the holistic development of persons, including the spiritual dimension, without which the churches would not have involved themselves in education.
As regards those students who are not Christian, the minister clearly stated that there can be exceptions on solid religious grounds - not just flimsy reasons. The member churches and trust representative of the Ecumenical Education Committee agree with such an exception.
When all is said and done, Jamaica has a rich heritage of Judaeo-Christian values that is fast being eroded by extraneous forces and philosophies. More than ever, our church and trust schools must remain true to their original raison d'etre and impart those values that bode well for our country, Jamaica, land we love!
DONALD J. REECE
Ecumenical Education Committee