A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America, Part 3

A Two Way Street: Jamaican SDB Pastors in North America, Part 3

 By Rev. Andrew Samuels

 

For the past two months, we have published the first two portions of an article written by Rev. Andrew Samuels describing the relationship between the USA/Canada and Jamaican Conferences. This is the third and final installment of that article, continuing in a list of characteristics that have contributed to the proliferation of Jamaican pastors serving in pastoral roles in North America.

 

A Mission-Oriented Spirit

 

Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have taken seriously the Great Commission given to the church by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That commission is articulated in the four Gospels and in the book of Acts. It commands us to make disciples as we go into all the world. This disciple-making business has driven Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists to be zealous about their faith. They have been very focused on accomplishing this mission as the Lord has enabled them. Significant limitations in personnel, material resources, and meeting space have often threatened to undo many of the efforts in their embryonic stages. But the mission was the focus, and there was the conviction that it was bigger than the constraints.

 

A Church-Planting Spirit

 

As has been expressed earlier, over the last 40 years, Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have planted 16 churches and groups in North America. Anyone who has ever been close to a church plant, knows what a difficult venture that is. A significant number of church plants end up failing because of the challenging nature of that undertaking. In every case, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that there have been tremendous obstacles, monumental setbacks, and great hardships; yet there has also been persistence, perseverance, and an indefatigable attitude. Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have typically never been satisfied to simply become integrated into a church of another denomination. Even if such integration is done for a brief period of time, before long the church-planting spirit rises up and looks for ways to be released.

 

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

 

Jamaican Seventh Day Baptists have exhibited incredible creativity in practicing their faith as they venture into new territories, carry out the mission of the kingdom, and plant churches. Whatever resources are needed, they have been willing to make sacrifices, take risks, and step out in faith, daring God to honor their commitment. They have been ingenious and innovative in raising funds for church projects. They have been visionary and imaginative in motivating people to contribute to the cause.

Their homes have been mortgaged, their personal savings depleted, they work extra jobs, and they organize clever savings schemes such as “partners” to accomplish the task of exercising their portable faith.

 

Another interesting observation is that the Jamaican pastorates have been blessed by longevity in service. A perusal of the 2013 Directory of Seventh Day Baptist Churches in North America reveals that of the five longest serving pastors at one church in the Conference, four of them were Jamaicans.

 

Jamaicans have enhanced the landscape of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of USA and Canada. That has been a reality largely because of an investment which was initially made by American Seventh Day Baptists almost 70 years ago. By comparison, there is no other nationality or ethnic group which comes even close to Jamaica in terms of having an undeniably enriching impact on Seventh Day Baptists in North America. Each of us can judge for ourselves as to whether there has been and continues to be a good return on that

Jamaican investment.

 

Seventh Day Baptists of Jamaican background who have served in a pastoral capacity in North America:

  1. Edson Barrett – Philadelphia, PA
  2. Val Bennett – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  3. Vernon Burke – Southwest Los Angeles, CA
  4. Everett Campbell – Syracuse, NY
  5. Herlitz Condison – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  6. Ericessen Cooper – New York City, NY
  7. Kenroy Cruickshank – Philadelphia, PA
  8. Barry Dailey – Southeast Atlanta, GA
  9. Egbert Downes – Agape in Queens, NY; Plainfield, NJ
  10. Norman Fearon – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  11. Selvin Findlater – Philadelphia, PA
  12. Gregory Grant – Christian Family Fellowship in Decatur, GA
  13. Henry Grant – New York City, NY
  14. Cormeth Lawrence (deceased) – Philadelphia, PA; Fort Lauderdale, FL
  15. Huethen Livingston – Miami, FL; Springfield, MA; United in Enfield, CT
  16. Alcott Lynch – West Palm Beach, FL
  17. Lambert Lynch – All Nations in Gardena, CA
  18. Garfield Malcolm – Christian Family Fellowship in Decatur, GA
  19. David McLean – Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
  20. Dalmon Murphy – Miami, FL
  21. Andrew Samuels – Miami, FL; New York City, NY; Fort Lauderdale, FL
  22. Joseph Samuels (deceased) – Toronto, Canada; Plainfield, NJ
  23. Harold Smith – Faith in Bronx, NY; New York City, NY; Springfield, MA
  24. Ronald Smith – Agape in Queens, NY
  25. Samuel Sterling – Agape in Queens, NY
  26. Socrates Thompson (deceased) – New York City, NY
  27. Llewellyn West – Faith in Bronx, NY

 

Seminary Students:

  1. Jamaal Fyffe
  2. Owen Lynch
  3. Omari Rhoden

 

 

Andy Samuels is the pastor of the Miami, FL SDB church, chairman of the Standing Committee on Faith and Order, and the Executive Secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation.

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