JIS News

The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) continued the celebration of its 130th anniversary with a church service at the Vision Apostolic Church, 38 Jobs Lane, Spanish Town St. Catherine on Sunday (October 25).
Highlight of the service was a message from Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, which described the anniversary as a “tremendous achievement.”
“There have been daunting challenges, but what is remarkable is the resilience that has been displayed by every member of the team,” said the Minister’s message, read by RGD’s Marketing Manager, Nicole Robinson.
The Minister also commended the work of RGD Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Patricia Holness, and her staff and congratulated her on the Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD), which she recently received for dedicated public service.
“As a public servant, who works so tirelessly to serve the needs of citizens, it is no surprise that you are the recipient of such a prestigious award,” the message stated.
The Minister congratulated Dr. Holness and her team for the recent introduction of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) telephony, to replace the old system which was destroyed in a lightning storm two years ago. He said that this will result in reduced response time to customer queries at the RGD.
“The continual changes and improvements are clear indications of your dedication and hard work for higher quality and better service. As you celebrate your success, I encourage you seek more ways of making your service effective,” Mr. Spencer said.
In her message to the packed congregation, headed by Pastor Errol Holness, the gracious RGD CEO recognised those who had paved the way before her.
“Today, as we reflect on this accomplishment, we must pay homage to those who went before us. I am sure that you can agree with me when I say this has been a remarkable journey, but I must truly thank those who were before me and those who continue to support the vision and mission of the Agency,” she said.
Dr. Holness took a look down memory lane when she reflected on the RGD’s history: Civil registration was formally introduced in Jamaica in 1879, four years after it was introduced in England. However, actual registrations of births began in 1878, at a time when the population census estimated that there were 570,000 persons living in Jamaica.
She explained that prior to the formalisation of the registration system, births in Jamaica were registered by the church, in the form of baptism and that, based on the practice at that time, only some births were fully captured.
She said at that birth registration, prior to 1878, was a privilege and not a right, for although Jamaicans now had access to registration, children born outside of wedlock were not entitled to the last name of the father. That has changed over the life of the RGD.
“I am happy to report that some 129 years later every Jamaican child born in a hospital has the right to full registration. The blessing does not stop there, as these children are also entitled to a free birth certificate,” Dr. Holness said.
Pastor of the Church, Errol Holness, based his message on Matthew 25 and the story of the ten virgins, under the theme ‘costly assumptions’. He also congratulated the RGD on a job well done.
He encouraged its clients to go to the RGD with the right assumptions. He said some who go to get documents make assumptions as to their names and the spellings, where and when they were born and even their parentage, which are not supported by the records. He added that sometimes these customers expect the RGD to change its records to support their assumptions.
“God will not change to please man, man has to change to please God, in the same way that the RGD cannot change its records to please the wishes of its customers,” Pastor Holness said.
The RGD will continue to celebrate its tenth year as an Executive Agency and 130th year in existence with a range of activities this year.

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