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Overcast conditions and a light drizzle did not dampen the spirits of hundreds of Jamaicans and friends of the island, who turned out for today’s (July 31) service of Praise and Thanksgiving in London, to mark Jamaica’s 48th anniversary of Independence.
Among the special guests at the Parish Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, were the Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster City Council, Councillor Cyril Nemeth, and the Mayor of Rugby, Councillor Don Williams.
The service, which was organised by the Jamaican High Commission, marked the start of Independence celebrations in the United Kingdom (UK).
Pastor of the Mona Baptist Church in St. Andrew, Rev. Stephen Jennings, who delivered the sermon, urged the congregation to strive for justice for all. He said that as an independent nation, Jamaica has much to be proud of and celebrate, although there are still many issues that, after 48 years, “we are yet to get right”.
However, he said, there is no need for despair or hopelessness, as Jamaicans are always ready to put up resistance to injustice in the quest for human dignity.
A highlight of the annual thanksgiving service was the marching in of the Jamaican Flag at the start of the service. This year, the flag bearers were Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) officer cadets, Lucien Moulton and Melvin Rhoden, who are studying at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Guest performers were the University Singers, who are in London as part of a six-city European tour. Their rendition of, ‘O’er our Blue Mountain’, ‘Jamaica Land of Beauty’ and ‘This is My Land’, had many in the congregation on their feet.
Another favourite with the congregation was the recitation of the National Pledge by the children of the staff and friends of the High Commission.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK, Anthony Johnson read the Prime Minister’s Emancipation and Independence messages, while lessons were read by Councillor Nemeth, and former Chair of the Jamaica Society Manchester, Marlene Wray.
There was also reading of the Psalms by Commonwealth Scholar, Emily Elliott, while Councillor Williams led the National Prayer.
The new Chaplin the House of Commons in the British Parliament, the Rev. Rose Hudson Wilkins, said the opening prayers.