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All articles in category Jamaica

Counting heads in Jamaica
November 2006
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Counting heads in Jamaica

The Christian church in Jamaica has strong colonial roots. The Spanish colonisers of the sixteenth century were followed by Roman Catholic priests; their English successors by Anglican clergymen. During the eighteenth century, Moravians, Baptists and Methodists became established; ministering mainly to the slave population. The population census of 2001 collected data on denominational affiliation in Jamaica (including Catholics and Christian cults). It shows that 1,952,774 persons, or 75% of the population, saw themselves as belonging to a ‘Christian’ group (see table 1). Although there was no single predominant denomination — the Seventh Day Adventist had the largest affiliation (10.8%) — over 25% of the population...

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November 2006
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Jamaica’s religions

Jamaica has a number of mainly home-grown religions — some are syncretistic between Christianity and animism. The most important cult is Pocomania. Its meetings are frenzied — with prayers, dances and rhythmic drumming. Adherents go into a trance, aided by rum and ganja (marijuana/cannabis). The most African of the cults is Kumina. It is strongest in the St Thomas parish. Based on the worship of ancestor spirit-deities, it seeks to appease the wandering spirits of dead people. Goats are sacrificed and vigorous drum beating is important. The sect uses a ritual Bantu language from the Congo, where it originated.Rastafarianism evolved as an expression of poor...

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November 2006
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Jamaica fact file

Location: The third largest island in the Caribbean Sea, lying south of Cuba. Area: 4244 square miles.Environment: Jamaica is mountainous (Blue Mountain Peak, 2256m) and prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. It has a tropical climate.Population: 2.8 million. Another 1.3 million have emigrated to North America and UK.Infant mortality rate: 16/1000 live births. Life expectancy: 73 years.Ethnic groups: Afro-Caribbean 94%; Asian/Afro-Asian 5%; Euro-American 1%. Many are descended from slaves brought in during the 17th-19th centuries. Languages: English (Official), Creole. Literacy: 85%.Capital: Kingston (900,000). Urbanisation: 50%.Economy: The economy is dependent on services, which account for 60% of GDP. Jamaica derives foreign exchange from tourism and the export...

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Reaching into Jamaica
November 2006
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Reaching into Jamaica

From a historical perspective, Jamaica is an island that has been reached with the gospel. We have freedom of religion; the population has access to thousands of churches; and Jamaica claims to be a Christian nation. However, there are still opportunities for missionaries to labour here, especially in the areas of theological education and works of mercy. Reformed theological education in Jamaica is woefully lacking. There is also a noticeable disconnection between what the average Christian professes and how the average Christian lives. There is an urgent need for believers to have a Christian world-view and to present an authentic Christianity that challenges individuals, institutions...

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Evangelicalism in Jamaica
November 2006
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Evangelicalism in Jamaica

Roman Catholicism came to Jamaica in 1494 during Christopher Columbus’ second expedition from Spain. In 1655 the Spaniards were driven out of the island by the British, who introduced Anglicanism. Evangelical Christianity arrived in the eighteenth century with the Moravians. They were opposed to slavery, which had been introduced by the Spaniards and continued by the British to support Jamaica’s plantation economy. Slavery was for a long time strongly defended by Jamaican planters and related commercial interests in Britain.The first Baptist to arrive — in the late eighteenth century — was Moses Baker. He had been a slave in the USA but bought his freedom...

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