Old Meets New

The Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, formed in 1966 and headed by pastor Peter Spencer, represents the new-line denominations. The longer-established Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) represents the old-line churches. But doctrinal lines are not so clearly marked as in North America; for example, the chairman of the Billy Graham crusade that is slated for Kingston in February, 1980, will be Gerald Gallimore, director of Jamaica Youth for Christ and a Baptist (and therefore JCC affiliated).

The missionary profile in Jamaica is low and dropping. Missionaries have long been instructed to prepare Jamaican replacements. Authorities have exercised restraint, but in the last few years have begun gradually and selectively to oust those making no discernible progress.

By and large, Jamaican ministries have been better prepared for a transition to national leadership than those in other Caribbean islands (except Cuba). Horace O. Russell, for instance, became the first Jamaican theological professor in 1958 at the Baptist Theological College in Calabar. This is now part of the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI), which serves the old-line Jamaican denominations throughout the Caribbean plus others, including the Lutherans, who are strong in Guyana. Russell became the first Jamaican UTCWI president. Now only one non-West Indian remains on the staff.

Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS), a post-high school institution that caters to the new-line denominations and is sponsored by the Missionary Church, still has a missionary principal, Zenas E. Gerig. But Jamaican principal-designate Neville Cowan is completing his doctoral work this spring, and will assume command of a largely Jamaican staff in the fall.

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