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The Church celebrates 36 years in Jamaica

Mormon Church Celebrates 36 Years in Jamaica

December 5, 2014, was a pivotal day in the history of the Church in Jamaica. It marked 36 years since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organised on the island.

The Beginnings of the Church in Jamaica

Though Mormon missionaries visited during the 1800s, the Church was not officially organised until December 5, 1978 when Elder M. Russell Ballard, a Mormon apostle, visited the city of Mandeville and dedicated the island of Jamaica for the preaching of the gospel.

During the 1970s, only a handful of Jamaicans joined the Church including the Nugent family and Amos Chin, the first Jamaican to serve as a full-time missionary on the island. Church meetings were held in the homes of members like the Nugent family who resided in Mandeville at the time.

But much has changed since that time. 17 meetinghouses now dot the island in cities and rural towns which include Kingston, Mandeville, Junction, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Yallahs. In the decades since the Church was introduced to Jamaicans, membership has blossomed to some 5,000-plus.

In addition, the Church in Jamaica achieved several milestones that reflect the growth of its members within the past three decades.

The First Local Mission President

In July 2013, Kevin G. Brown became the first Jamaican to serve as mission president in the Jamaica Kingston mission. As mission president, Brown oversees missionary work in countries which include Jamaica, Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Brown was first introduced to the Church through his grandmother, Thelma Brown who was baptised in the 1980s. As a third-generation Mormon, Brown along with his wife, Nadine, is an example of stalwart service and the power that comes through faith centred on Christ. Brown is slated to serve as mission president for three years. He lives with his wife and five children in Kingston.

The Organisation of the First Jamaican Stake

In 2014, the Church in Jamaica reached another pivotal milestone with the creation of the Kingston Jamaica stake, the first stake on the island. The stake, like a diocese, refers to an organisation of several chapels within a distinct geographic region.

“[A] stake is a sign of maturity in the Church,” said Brown. “The light has come [for us] and now is the time for growth and progress.” The stake highlights the growth of the Church since it requires a host of dedicated lay leaders to administer to the needs of Church members and the wider community. 

Elder Jeffery R. Holland, a Mormon apostle, organised the Kingston Jamaica stake on June 8, 2014. During the creation of the stake, Andrew Lue was called as the new stake president. The stake presidency also includes Royce Britton, first counsellor in the mission presidency, and Patrick Medley, second counsellor.

Historic Temple Trip in 2014

2014 also marked a historic year for the Church due to the advent of a trip to the Santa Domingo temple. More than 100 members of the Church participated, especially the youth.

For Mormons, the temple represents the holiest place on the earth. Like temples mentioned in ancient scripture, modern-day temples enable members of the Church to commune with God, make covenants and perform sacred ordinances.

Since there are currently no temples in Jamaica, local leaders organised a temple trip to the Santa Domingo Temple. This trip provided dozens of youths an opportunity to develop friendships with other Mormon youth. More importantly, the trip acted as a catalyst, sparking the flame of conversion in the hearts of many participants who were visiting the temple for the first time.

With the Church now established on the island for 36 years, Mormons in Jamaica are growing in both number and strength. They are also feeling confident that more is yet to come. 

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