Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Ridgemount United Church celebrates 185 years

Published:Sunday | June 26, 2022 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey - Sunday Gleaner writer

The Ridgemount United Church has been contributing to the growth and development of Mandeville and its environs over the years.
The Ridgemount United Church has been contributing to the growth and development of Mandeville and its environs over the years.

Minister at the Ridgemount United Church,  Reverend Anthony Chung conducts a worship service.
Minister at the Ridgemount United Church, Reverend Anthony Chung conducts a worship service.

“I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work night is coming when no one can work.” John 9:4 KJV

For years, the Ridgemount United Church, located at 53 Main Street, Mandeville, has been a beacon a hope for thousands in and around the parish capital. It has spearheaded several initiatives geared toward the uplifting of the community and the proclamation of the gospel.

According to Rev Anthony Chung, the 16th minister and fourth native Jamaican minister in the life of the church, community initiatives will remain a strong focus of the church’s 185th anniversary celebrations this year.

Since the start of the celebrations in January, the church has held a special service, a fundraising walk-a-thon, and family fun day. But key to the celebrations will be a town hall meeting and an awards banquet that will culminate the festivities.

“We wanted to do something that would serve the community in a very specific way and so on July 23, we will have a town hall meeting focussed on cybersecurity and cybersafety, particularly for our seniors and generally on how we can help people navigate this digital world in which we operate in,” he explained.

Standard outreach programmes

The church, which started January 1, 1837, through the London Missionary Society in England to spread the knowledge of Christ, has over 500 members and continues in its efforts to steadily increase that number.

Among the strong programmes the church has gained admiration for are its counselling and educational drives that continue to help even those who live outside of the parish.

“The counselling programme, which was officially launched in 2016, but was preceded by an informal set up, has had tremendous impact in terms of relationships, conflict resolution, children coping with depression, among other issues. Through the court, people have been referred here as a diversionary tool to have disputes settled and that is a big part of our operations here,” said Chung.

Another accomplishment worthy of note, Chung shared, is that of the establishment of a computer lab, through the Universal Service Fund and telecommunication company FLOW, which offers a cyber-programme.

“We are also in the community of New Green with our primary and infant school, which was started by the church, a joint venture with the government. We also support the work of the Mount Olivet Boys Home, which is owned by our denomination,” he added.

With over 100 families that benefit from its standard outreach programmes, Chung said the church remains committed to its roots while it evolves and remains relevant in changing times.

“We are thinking about how we can continue to best serve, especially our younger generation… We want Ridgemount to be a place of hope, where anyone a part of this town that needs somewhere to find solace and comfort and the basic resources of life, can look forward and say yes there is a church on the hill that we can go to,” Chung said.

Anxious times

While faith and religion may take the back-burner in the life of a person who may be distressed, or otherwise occupied by the things of the world, the Ridgemount minister said the challenges of leading a church in this time are not insurmountable.

“The church is always speaking, but the problem is whether people are listening. A lot churches are remaining involved, on the ground, in the community, trying to fix some of the social ills. The church is involved in mentorship, trying to inculcate in our young people the values that are important to make the society better. A lot of what we do is less speaking and more acting,” he emphasised.

“These are anxious times, but we remain hopeful. When we put our trust in God, that also gives us hope … The way of God is the way that is best and I want to say to people, turn to God, as the source and the One who gives us strength to navigate this age. When we embrace the way of Jesus, that is the way to a fulfilling life and that message remains true,” he said.