Jamaica Chinese Christian Church - Part II - Not a religious denomination
Within the Christian religion there are denominations that are underpinned by beliefs and practices that make them different from the others. But the Jamaica Chinese Christian Church (JCCC), located along Dominica Drive, in New Kingston, does not subscribe to the concepts of religion and denomination.
Thus, it is not affiliated with any other denomination, and is not governed by an overarching organisation. It is answerable to no one, but God, according to retired Christian missionary, Linda Lowe and Peter Zhang, the chairman of the JCCC board of deacons. There are also three elders, but there is no pastor at this time.
Deacon Zhang said they do not like the concept of denominations because it creates confusion. People do not know which one to choose, so they prefer to be known as a church attending to the spiritual needs of its members according to scriptures. The Bible, then, is what it is guided by and not the perspective or the belief of any one man or woman.
FINDING YOUR WAY TO GOD
Religion to them is about man finding his way to God, and figuring it out for himself. This is the reason why there are so many religions. Instead, only God can reveal himself to man, Deacon Zhang said. In essence, only God himself can tell us how to find Him. And He will come to us through His word, the Bible.
Thus, the JCCC does not operate through rigid doctrines of what its members should and should not do. Yet, it does not embrace things such as circumcision and gay marriages. Babies are blessed, not baptised or christened.
It believes in baptism, a public show of connection with God, but it does not have any strict policy of how it should be carried out. There is a baptismal pool for immersion, but it might also be by way of sprinkling, especially for people who are infirm and/or bedridden.
The minimum age of the baptismal candidate, however, must be 16. "When a person is 16, they have more understanding of what baptism means to them," Deacon Zhang said.
Worship includes reading the Bible and discussing the scripture, singing, and holy communion, once per month. Enrichment also comes through the Sunday School, and there is a junior church for young adults. There are no extensive rituals as they believe people invented rituals to please God, but they are not of God.
To be a member a worshipper must have had attended for a certain period of time, must have been baptised, not necessarily at that church, and must be subject to an interview. Current membership is approximately 100, including children.
Services are conducted in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka, but from time to time services are conducted in English. Some amount of interpretation also takes place. And contrary to the thought that the JCCC excludes non-Chinese, Lowe said others might not want to attend because of the language issues.
Though it might not be exclusive, Lowe said the aim of the church is to attend to the needs of the Chinese Christians in Jamaica, especially those who cannot speak English.
"This is our vision, to reach Jamaica's boys and girls, men and women, who speak either Mandarin, Hakka or Cantonese; to get them to know about God, and how to study God's word ... to reach the Chinese unsaved for God, right here in Jamaica," Lowe told Family & Religion.