Jamaican government leaders commended Seventh-day Adventists for their integrity and leadership role in the island nation during a recent visit to the country by the Adventist world church's President Jan Paulsen.
Governor-General Sir Kenneth Octavius Hall thanked the church for its "committed public citizenship" in a meeting with Paulsen on October 26.
"Adventists can be trusted," Hall said, adding that the church is in an ideal position to offer guidance and moral leadership to the country's young people.
"Be assured," Paulsen said, "that we will be here for the good of the nation. We want our church to be a visible contributor to a better future, to be a voice for those who are poor, forgotten, or who are struggling with addictions." Paulsen added that such a role should well be "expected" of the Adventist Church.
The governor-general also congratulated the church's visibility within the community. The church has become so ubiquitous, Hall said, "if you are giving directions in Jamaica, often you say 'turn after the sign for the Adventist church.'"
Paulsen visited the Caribbean nation to participate in a live broadcast of Let's Talk Caribbean and address the country's church membership during the centennial celebration of Adventist-owned Northern Caribbean University (formerly West Indies College), in Mandeville. Paulsen, who was accompanied during his visit by Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church's Inter-American region, also met with the church's ministers for a question-and-answer session.
The church's impact in Jamaica is due largely to its education system, said the country's prime minister, Orette Bruce Golding, on October 27, during a breakfast meeting with Paulsen.
"How many more schools can I turn over to you?" Golding asked with a laugh. With enrolment at 5,700 students, NCU is the church's largest university.
"As a church, we want to make a significant contribution to the quality of life -- here and now -- and education is a big part of that. Education builds community," Paulsen said.
Paulsen congratulated the NC University's Imagine Cup Team members for representing Jamaica and winning third place in Microsoft's annual international software design competition in August. He also commended the church for obtaining a broadcast license with a cable company to carry the church's television network, HopeTV, in the region. The celebration at NCU was the first program aired on the channel.
Jamaica has one of the highest rates of Adventists per capita in the world -- one out of 12 people in Jamaica is an Adventist Christian.
More than 240,000 Adventists worship in 667 congregations in the church's West Indies region, comprised of Jamaica, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. [Compiled by ANN Staff for ANN/APD]