The history of Central Jamaica Conference cannot be considered in isolation from the entire Seventh-day Adventist movement in Jamaica, given that this Conference was established some 67 years after the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church reached the island. The work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica dates from 1890 when someone in Antigua sent the book - The Coming King, to a Mr. James Palmer in Kingston. Palmer sought more materials from the source of the book in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.A., and sharing them with others, they started a study group at 1 Laws Street in Kingston. With the help from invited persons from the Church’s headquarters, the first Adventist Church in Jamaica with 37 members was organized in 1894 at South Race Course, Kingston.
The work grew rapidly resulting in the naming of various organizational territories in the Caribbean/West Indies in general and Jamaica in particular. Two of these organized territories were: The Jamaica Conference in 1903 and The West Indian Union Conference in 1906 (Comprising Jamaica and other islands). The name West Indies Union came into being in 1959. The Jamaican field by itself grew with two distinct but united territories – East Jamaica Conference with the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, Portland, St. Mary and St. Catherine; and West Jamaica Conference having the parishes of St. Ann, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, St, James, Hanover, Trelawny and Westmoreland.
In 1961, the third Seventh-day Adventists Conference in Jamaica – Central Jamaica Conference was organized. It covered the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, St. Ann. Western St. Mary and St Catherine. The first business session was held in Spanish Town on October 26, 1961 beginning at 9:00 a.m. Pastor Hiram S. Walters who was elected as the first president also carried the portfolio of Religious Liberty Director. Miss Edna W. Parchment became the Secretary and Treasurer and Pastor Edwin Hyatt, Director of Health & Welfare, Temperance and Sabbath School. Pastor Leroy S. Carter was responsible for the Missionary Volunteer Society (Adventist Youth), Education and the Public Relations, while the work of Publishing went to Pastor Theodore McLeary. It is noteworthy that our dynamic First President and one of the stalwarts of the Seventh-day Adventist Church here in Jamaica, with influences stretching beyond our shores, Dr. Hiram Sebastian Walters, “Uncle Tim”, passed from this life in the very month, October, when this Conference observed its 40th Anniversary.
We give God thanks for the mighty way He used Pastor Walters to lead His church in the past. In the following year, 1962, as Jamaica took the historic decision to become an independent nation, Central Jamaica Conference with its 39 employees and 10,497 members in 131 churches, continued to march in the footstep of its senior sister Conferences, to make the men and women, boys and girls in its territory independent from the shackles of sins, by the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s leadership has been visible ever since, unto this very day! The next major milestone in the Conference happened on July 12, 2002, during its First Quadrennial Session, when the parishes of St. Mary and St. Ann were ceded to the North Jamaica Conference. Before the territorial adjustments were made, Central Jamaica Conference had 235 churches and 42 companies in 44 pastoral districts, with a total membership of 71,083 and a workforce of 178 persons. Following the division, the Conference had 163 churches and 25 companies in 39 districts with a total membership of 59,794 and a workforce of 144 persons. We look back in the 50th anniversary year and thank God for His leading hand resulting in the phenomenal growth to a present membership of 82,012 members worshipping in 49 pastoral districts in more than 182 churches and 35 companies and a staff compliment of 181.