ON MESSAGE: The veteran preacher urged Jamaica to reclaim its power as a nation "walking humbly with God."
According to Rev. Dr. Burchell Taylor, for there to be transformation and significant positive change across Jamaica, justice and compassion, morality and dignity, must go hand in hand. Rev. Taylor, who was delivering the keynote address at Thursday’s National Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, also called on leaders in all sectors and Jamaicans from all walks to hold fast to humility and forge a strong moral vision for the way forward. “We must make an enduring commitment to uphold and promote in all that we do the immeasurable sanctity of human dignity. In all that we do, we must remember that human dignity is at stake,” Dr. Taylor told the rap audience.
During his nearly hour-long address, the iconic preacher-man, head of Kingston’s landmark Bethel Baptist Church since 1970, emphasized that justice cannot be reserved for only those in the upper echelons of society. For too long, he stressed, the cries of the downtrodden and dispossessed have been woefully ignored. “The common [declaration] ‘We want justice!’ is an intuitive, native cry. And we mustn’t let our stereotypical perspectives distract us from that,” he noted, adding that we all have a role to play – collective action – in fostering a flourishing justice system. “We who seek justice need to come together. We must ensure that every member of the society has access to the goods that will lead to a life of dignity. This is our task.”
Citing troubling crime statistics and alarming news reports involving members of the clergy, Dr. Taylor warned that Jamaica is experiencing “a quaking” of its moral foundation. “We also sense that we are a people at odds with ourselves which is [being manifested] in the vilest and cruelest criminal acts of violence,” noted the reverend, who delivered the address at the very first prayer breakfast back in 1981. The solution, he firmly believes, rests in our collective responsibility to do the right thing and fight vigorously for justice, while reclaiming the sizeable power that comes with being a people walking humbly with God.
This is a point that Sir Patrick Allen also underscored, as he brought greetings from King’s House. “We all have to be agents of change for the better,” the Governor General noted. “We who lead must be the examples of all that we wish for our beloved nation. May we never lose our belief in the power of prayer and be mindful of our responsibility to love and serve one another.”
Now in its 37th year, the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast brought together a host of Government and Opposition members, corporate, consular and diplomatic corps personnel, dozens of clergymen and folks from the wider society to reflect on issues of national importance – not least among them, peace, justice, reconciliation and unity. This year’s breakfast observed the theme “God-empowered intervention for transformation.”