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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, has hailed Jamaicans in the Diaspora for their unwavering support and steadfast commitment to nation building, particularly through the many successful missions and projects in the key areas of health and education.

The Ambassador was delivering his message at the service of thanksgiving to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence, held recently at the Dunbarton Chapel on the Howard University Law School campus in Washington, DC.

Scores of Jamaicans from Philadelphia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington; members of the diplomatic corps, and friends of the island, packed the chapel for the service.

Ambassador Vasciannie, in his first public address to the Diaspora since assuming office, pointed to the proud legacy that Jamaicans have built together since gaining Independence on August 6, 1962.  Independence, he said, has “allowed us to embrace our legacy and take full responsibility for our destiny, our hopes and our dreams."

He stated that “half a century of Jamaican nationhood is an extraordinary achievement,” and it is indeed a “golden jubilee that Jamaicans worldwide have every right to celebrate with gusto."

Professor Vasciannie also read the Independence message from Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, in which she called on Jamaicans everywhere to make the jubilee anniversary “a time of renewal and commitment; a time to forge ahead, strengthen relations and help build our beloved country into the place we all want it to be – a country where we can live, work, raise our families, do business, and retire.”

Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Right Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory, who delivered the sermon, said that if Jamaica is to lay any claim to the promise of hope and blessing for the next 50 years, “we must be challenged towards a much deeper and personal dedication of self”.

He also called on the nation, to follow the ways and teachings of God, as we seek to build a prosperous country.

The scripture lessons were read by Maryland House of Delegates member, Shirley Nathan-Pulliam; Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Richmond, Virginia, Beryl Walters-Riley; and Ambassador of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the United States,

Dr. Neil Parson.  There were musical selections from celebrated Jamaican soprano Dawn-Marie Virtue, the group Performing Artists Under the Lord (PAUL), among others.

Presiding bishops were Rev. Dr. Bertram Melbourne of Howard University’s School of Divinity, and Rev. Sylvia McDonald Kaufman.

The offering collected at the service was dedicated to three charities: the Jamaica Christian Boys’ Home, FAMPLAN, and the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT).

The church service was one of many activities planned by the Embassy of Jamaica to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence.