Trevor Hylton: Transforming lives in St Mary
BOSCOBEL, St Mary:
Before arriving in St Mary four years ago, United Church minister Trevor Hylton spent more than 20 years supporting and serving communities throughout St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, and Hanover.
Nevertheless, Hylton, who serves as pastor for the Boscobel-Immanuel Charge of the United Church in Jamaica, acknowledges that his work in St Mary is incomparable to anything he has done previously.
He told Family and Religion: "The church in Boscobel is located in a housing scheme, and I've never worked in that context before. There are basically three distinct areas that have their own peculiarities: the Hills of Boscobel, which is a new community; Boscobel Heights, which is made up of predominately returning residents; and Boscobel View, which is an informal settlement that is becoming formal. Each area has its own niche in ministry and, therefore, has to be approached in a different way."
Consequently, when ministering in Boscobel, Hylton is required to simultaneously serve three almost completely disparate communities, a daunting task he nevertheless relishes.
He explained: "The communities are not necessarily distant in terms of proximity, but they are in terms of make-up. Therefore, you know what type of ministry the senior people need and you'll know what type to administer to youths. The issue of concubinage is something we have to wrestle with a lot and might be one of the most challenging experiences in bringing people to Christ.
"When we look at what the obstacles are, we see a lot of adherents who come to the church, but are unable to make a commitment because of their personal disposition. They are either friendly with somebody, in a concubinage relationship, or something of that kind.
"You have to meet people where they're at and help them go to the dimension that you aspire or God's will for them. To that end, you have one-to-one talks and design your ministry to look at family life and how to engage the younger ones to see if that cycle could be broken."
Hylton understands that to engage young people, programmes and projects catering to their specific needs must be developed. Subsequently, in 2016, he plans to establish a series of sports and employment initiatives that aim to support and assist disaffected youth in Boscobel.
He said: "One of the key elements for attracting youth is through sports. Early next year, we will begin to look at how we can use sports as a means to engage the youths and, equally, I'm looking at having an employment fair or something like that, which would prepare them for employment and help us to see if there's any scope for direct employment.
"For me, if you are not scratching where it is itching, you're not helping. The Church has to be engaged in touching lives for the better, and not only as it relates to the spiritual element of the person because our intention is to minister to the whole person and, therefore, their social needs are of equal interest as we minister."