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Jamaicas 48th Independence celebrations get underway

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Hundreds of Jamaican nationals and friends united in worship at the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale yesterday (Aug. 1) to celebrate Jamaicas anniversary of Emancipation and Independence at the Ecumenical service of thanksgiving. The Service was organized by the Consulate General of Jamaica in Miami.

Guest preacher, Dr. Samuel Vassel, Pastor of the Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene in New York, told his congregation of more than 1,200 persons that prayer was not an option as Jamaicans and friends of the Diaspora gathered to celebrate the nations 48th anniversary of Independence.

In this time of reflection on the nations triumphs and also challenges, Dr. Vassel reminded his congregation that the Jamaican National Anthem was a “beautiful prayer and should be sung from the heart in sync with Gods hope, and our actions for the betterment of the nation, he added.

Using the national theme for Independence I believe in Jamaica Dr. Vassel encouraged nationals to embrace the power of prayer, with confidence, consciousness and in dialogue with God, as a means to help find solutions for Jamaicas challenges, even as we celebrate, he added. “We have a number of things to pray about he remarked.

While there was a longing for home, Dr. Vassel reminded those in the Diaspora that as they resided in the various overseas communities, “you must establish yourselves with a purpose for living abroad. Defining that purpose, Pastor Vassel emphasized that by taking roots here in our Diasporic communities, we embrace the present by engaging the process using the opportunities and available avenues for self-improvement, personal obligations and in service to our communities.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Babsy Grange who was special guest in the South Florida anniversary celebrations saluted Jamaicans in the Diaspora as an integral part of Brand Jamaica through their own contributions and achievements and as ambassadors in the United States.

The Minister also signaled the years of cordial friendship and cooperation between Jamaica and the USA, which she said has been a home for many Jamaican migrants over the years. She also stated that Jamaicans had in turn made a positive impact through the creation and engagement of opportunities in those communities.

Minister Grange mentioned plans for the nations 50th anniversary of Independence in 2012, which would include a grand homecoming as she invited all Jamaicans across the Diaspora to return home to celebrate a significant milestone in the nations history. “We want to see tributaries of Jamaicans streaming through the streets of Kingston as herald another milestone in our lives, according to the Minister.

Minister Grange also read the Independence message from the Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding.

The two-hour long service included recitals by the South Florida Caribbean Chorale, a 100-voice strong group of choristers from Jamaican populated congregations in the South Florida communities, led by Steve Higgins. The lyrics and rhythm of “Sweet Jamaica arouse a feeling of nostalgia as persons shared in the gospel sung by the Jamaica Folk Revue and the Tallawah Mento Band. The Sierra Norwood Calvary Church Cultural Group performed an outstanding rendition of song and dialect saluting developments in Jamaicas culture and heritage.

Jamaicas Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths in her welcome remarks urged Jamaicans across the Diaspora to reinvigorate that heart spirit and recommit to our ideals and choose progress for Jamaica, our beloved homeland.

Highlighting the variety of events commemorating the celebration of the nations Independence, the Consul General expressed gratitude to the Diasporic community for “making the conscious choice of keeping Jamaica in your hearts even as you embrace the opportunities and strive to achieve the potential promised to you in the American Dream.

She praised the community for the support given to the Jamaican Consulate General over the years and indicated that as leaders, commitment, responsibility and accountability were crucial in the process required for development, both personal and national. Expressing gratitude for the cause of Jamaica and the welfare of our people, the Consul General noted that this was supported by the constant support from the community-based organizations, the business enterprises, and those in public service in health and education, entertainment, legal and security services.

Officiating Minister was the Reverend Dr. Raymond Anglin, Pastor of Ascension Peace Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, while the prayers for Jamaica and the United States were read by Reverend Dr. Alford Alphonse, Hospice rector, and Reverend Dr. Michael Curry of the Kendall Community Church of God, respectively.

The Scripture lessons were read by the Reverend Horace D. Ward of the Holy Family Episcopal Church, Marlon Hill, Diaspora Advisory Board representative for the Southern USA, and Miss Shanice Cox, Miss Jamaica Florida 2010.

Also in attendance were the former US Ambassador to Jamaica, Mrs. Sue Cobb, the Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Beverley Manley, members of the Diplomatic Corp and public officials across South Florida Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Proceeds of collection will benefit ministries of the Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene as well as the Jamaica Nutrition Island Network and the Jamaica Christian Boys Home.

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