A View from Jamaica

Mardi Gras is not celebrated in Jamaica. Instead, Ash Wednesday is a national holiday with a long-standing tradition in the Reformed family of churches there. The CICW's Emily Brink reports.

While in Jamaica, the CICW's Emily Brink had a chance to observe some of the traditions of the island, particularly when it comes to Lent.

She noted that while Mardi Gras is not celebrated in Jamaica, Ash Wednesday is, in fact, a national holiday. And, she added, Ash Wednesday is a long-standing tradition in the Reformed family of churches there.

Day of Fellowship

In a dispatch back to the Worship Instiute, Brink wrote: "The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) annually holds a Day of Fellowship, bringing together all 200-plus congregations in four regional events. On vacation in Jamaica this week, I attended the North-Eastern Regional Mission Council service near Kingston, held from 9 am to 4 pm in a mega-church large enough to hold the 800 people who came for the day.

"The service included much singing, led by a choir and praise band from one of the churches; three different drama and dance groups from other congregations; as well as a powerful sermon and the Lord’s Supper. Six lay leaders were commissioned or recommisioned, having completed their training to fill the pastoral needs in some of the smaller churches; they will now also be able to administer the sacraments."

Communion in Jamaica.
Communion in Jamaica.

Brink continued (as did the service!): "After a lunch break at 1:30, the service continued with more singing and a moving drama on sex trafficking, led by a Christian drama troop that seeks to make an impact in the broader society in Jamaica on this global issue.

"The next large event of UCJCI, another tradition, will be a Convocation the Sunday after Easter, when all 209 congregations will gather for a day of worship and fellowship in a large sports arena in Kingston. The United Church is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year of adding the Disciples of Christ to the previous 1965 union of Presbyterians and Congregationalists. Thank God for the witness of the church on this beautiful island."

~Emily Brink, reporting from Jamaica