Just over 80 persons attended the inaugural worship service of the newly formed Adventist Church for the Deaf which was held in the Children’s Division of the Portmore Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday, November 12, 2016.
Though a name for the church is yet to be agreed on, the congregation has been established to care for the spiritual needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community, which, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica accounts for approximately 74,857 persons in Jamaica.
Earlier this year, the Adventist Church in Jamaica, during the first “Day of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing” announced plans to establish a church for this special group.
Since then, through a partnership among the Jamaica Union Conference, Central and East Jamaica Conferences, and the Portmore Church, the congregation is now a reality.
Approximately 50 of the 80 persons who attended the service are deaf or hard of hearing. Others were supporters, family members and church officials.
The service started in the main sanctuary, when the special group of worshippers were introduced to the Portmore Church and a prayer of consecration was offered on their behalf by Pastor Carl Cunningham, Director of Sabbath School & Personal Ministries at the East Jamaica Conference.
The group was then escorted to the upstairs section of the Church (the proposed location for the church) which seats up to 150 persons. According to the church pastor, this section is currently being retrofitted with new bathroom facilities and air conditioning units.
Once in their place of worship, their service mirrored a typical Adventist worship service on a Sabbath.
Pastor Levi Johnson, President of Central Jamaica Conference and Pastor of the Portmore District of Seventh-day Adventist Church (including the Church for the Deaf) charged the group to “own the church”. He encouraged the group to take responsibility for every aspect of the church from here on. Pastor Johnson also took time to explain the leadership structure and services of the Adventist Church.
While not all the persons in attendance are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Johnson mentioned that these persons are all members of the Sabbath School.
Also, in attendance at the service to bring greetings was Miss Antoinette Scarlett, Transition Services Officer of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, who commended the Adventist Church for this bold move. She extended congratulations to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for being the first to do this. “You are empowering this community and that is very good.”
Other persons in attendance at the service were:
- Pastor Nevail Barrett, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Director of Central Jamaica Conference. Pastor Barrett is also in charge of Special Needs Ministries.
- Pastor Adrian Cottrell, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Director of Jamaica Union Conference. He brought greetings on behalf of the Jamaica Union.
Pastor Cunningham in presenting the Sermon reminded the group that Jesus teaches acceptance of everyone, including the deaf and hard of hearing. His sermon was captioned, “God Made Me Special”.