Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Devon Dick | A memorial service ‘riggle’

Published:Wednesday | June 9, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Robert Nesta Morgan, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Robert Nesta Morgan, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Rev. Devon Dick
Rev. Devon Dick

‘Riggle me dis, riggle me dat, guess me dis riggle and parraps nat. Which politician can pull a ‘memorial service’ out of a funeral hat?

On June 3, the Honourable Robert Nesta Morgan, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, said, “I will not comment on what appears to be a fact that Reverend Devon Dick, in your paper, seems unaware of the difference between a funeral and a memorial or thanksgiving service”.

That statement shows that the clever Minister Morgan thinks I am ‘fool-fool’.

However, my understanding of memorial service is informed by the Cambridge English Dictionary, which states that a memorial service is “a ceremony to remember someone who has died, which takes place after they have been buried or cremated”. Usually, the memorial service takes place weeks, months or years after the death.

Since 1990, at Boulevard Baptist Church, every first Sunday in January we have had a memorial service to remember all those who died in the preceding year. And in the USA, there is an Annual Memorial Day in May to remember US military people who died while serving their country.

But the issue is not whether I know the difference between a memorial service and a funeral service, but that the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) that was in effect up to June 2 does not have the words ‘memorial service’ in it, however defined. This 72-page document, at Section 18, stated what was prohibited and what was allowed – “no funeral” was allowed and “burial with ten mourners and for thirty minutes” was allowed. Section 19 states “no physical contact (such as hugs or handshakes) occurs between persons”. There are those minute details, and yet there is not even one word that a ‘memorial service’ could be held once the corpse was absent.


Finally, months ago it was asked whether a memorial service could be held for a faithful church member and the answer was ‘no’, and so no memorial service was held.

I am not the only minister of religion who was given that edict. On Radio Jamaica, Bishop Alvin Bailey stated that as a representative of the Church Umbrella Group in caucus with the Government, the group was told no memorial service!

Tell me something. For two weeks, from March 8, in addition to the ‘no-funeral’ policy, there was the ‘no-burial’ policy. Did this mean there could have been memorial services for the deceased once the corpse was not present?

Also, on October 22 in my Letter to the Editor captioned ‘‘No funeral’ policy order causing unnecessary grief’, I bemoaned the untold sorrow of not having a funeral service. Since then, almost eight months ago, the Government did not send the memo that there could be memorial service in a church.

This is a ‘memorial service’ riggle, and mystery.

I have been in pastors’ forums wherein some pastors defended the Government’s no-funeral policy and only buried their members in a 30-minute graveside ritual. These pastors now have egg on their faces and will get a backlash. I can just hear some pastors echoing the words of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was sent to the gallows by King Henry VIII: “If I had served God as diligently as I have done the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”

Since it appears a fact that Minister Morgan thinks I am fool-fool, I encourage the PM to take my foolish advice and not listen to the clever Robert Nesta Morgan concerning memorial service or the DRMA.

Instead, listen to Robert Nesta Marley, reggae icon, in the song Who the Cap Fit: “Man to man is so unjust, children, ya don’t know who to trust. Your worst enemy could be your best friend. And your best friend your worst enemy.”.


Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church and author of ‘Enduring Advocacy for a Better Jamaica’; ‘The Cross and the Machete’ and ‘Rebellion to Riot: The Jamaican Church in Nation Building’. Email feedback to