Adventists welcome long-awaited Disabilities Act
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica is celebrating with those who are disabled, as it lauds the passing of the Disabilities Act.
The Disabilities Act 2014, which was passed in Parliament in October 2014 and reaffirmed by both Houses of Parliament in October 2021, came into effect on February 14.
“This is one of the ministries that our church places special emphasis on because of the need to be all inclusive,” said Pastor Adrian Cotterell, coordinator of the church’s Possibilities Ministries. “We should never make the mistake of underestimating the abilities of persons with disabilities and must refrain from thinking or treating others who may look different as incompetent or inferior.”
While many refer to this ministry as ‘Disability’, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has decided on the nomenclature: Possibilities Ministries.
“We believe the potentials, promises, possibilities, life-changing and transformational outcomes that can take place when we think and emphasise possibilities. We acknowledge that each person was created in the image of God and all are gifted, needed, and treasured in our church,” explained Cotterell.
The Adventist Church in Jamaica is the only one globally that has an entire week set aside annually for the celebration of those who are disabled.
“We do this to highlight the ministry and call attention to the need for total inclusion, total participation, total education and total accessibility and promote equal opportunities for all person with disabilities,” said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica. “As a church, we will continue to do everything to ensure that the objectives of the Disability Act will be realised in our nation, particularly through our church.”
This year, the church celebrates its Possibilities Ministries Day from March 7-12 under the theme ‘I Will Give’, with the emphasis being on sharing with the disability community for empowerment, encouragement, and enrichment of their lives.
“We use this opportunity to call upon every citizen of this country to respect the rights of persons with disability and be reminded that all of us are broken and are in need of healing. When we focus on possibilities, we look beyond the disability and see abilities, the beauty, the lovely and the wonderful attributes to affirm, the attractiveness to admire and the person to adore,” Cotterell added.
In October 2016, the church launched a Church for the Deaf at its Portmore location in St Catherine. Since then, the congregation continues to grow, moving from eight members to an average of 40 worshipping each Sabbath, with capacity for 75 members, and with plans to set up another in western Jamaica before the end of 2023.
According to the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, more than 30,000 persons in Jamaica are either deaf or have some form of hearing impairment.