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LONDON — Hundreds of United Kingdom (UK) based Jamaicans, their families and friends filled the St. Martin in the Fields Parish Church in Trafalgar Square, London, on July 31, for the annual service of Praise and Thanksgiving to mark the start of activities to celebrate Jamaica's independence.

Chaplain to the House of Commons, Jamaican born Reverend Rose Hudson Wilkins, who preached the sermon, urged the community to ensure that the children inherited a Jamaican society that was built on a solid foundation and on the words of the national anthem and pledge.

“The foundation we look for is found in the words of our national anthem and pledge. It is a foundation built on generosity, wisdom, truth, justice, respect, vision, loyalty, duty, diligence, courage, brotherhood and peace,” she said.

Reverend Hudson Wilkins, who is also Vicar of Holy Trinity Dalston and All Saints Haggerston, said that when the word Jamaica is uttered, “we want people to look to those characteristics and recognised that they are not just given but that they were honed over many years." She said Jamaicans must work towards become a people worthy of these characteristics and of the name Jamaica.

She challenged the congregation to use the 49th anniversary of independence to not only prepare for the land mark 50th anniversary next year and but to also reflect on the quality of their goals.

“We need to think of our national heroes. We need to think about people like the late Professor Rex Nettleford, and (world sprinter) Usain Bolt. We need to think about those who have not had a silver spoon handed to them, but who have carved out a life through sheer determination and the recognition of the presence of God directing them,” she said.

Rev. Hudson Wilkins also urged the congregation to reflect on the Ten Commandments, noting that the failure to live by the commands is causing a deterioration of family life and of the community. She pleaded for parents to take more interest and play a more significant part in the lives of their children.

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Anthony Abrahams read the Prime Minister's Emancipation Day message. The Jamaican flag was marched in by Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Officer Cadets, Zane Smith and Melbourne Williams.

The service also featured the flautist, Lea Burke, the All London Seventh Day Adventist Male Voice Choir, organist Carl Jackson, and a dance of praise, choreographed by Jackie Guy.

The collection from this year's service will go to the Mustard Seed Communities in Jamaica.

                                                                                       

By Vivienne Siva, JIS Reporter