Christian Diaspora Movement purpose is to engage Christians to play a major role in the development and the transforming of lives of people of their nation of origin.
We begun at the last conference 2016 to establish Christian Diaspora Alliances for Jamaica ( UK, Canada and US) but at the 2018 conference we want to encourage other Caribbean islands to form similar organizations for their own nation. The alliances are to facilitate the linking of the Diaspora across borders to address issues in their country of origin as well as addressing situations where persons are now living in the Diaspora regions.
The hope is also that there would be linkages of these Alliances from all nationalities across borders so that there can be support and joint ventures in the various locations where people reside. For example, the Alliances in Trinidad and Jamaica could support the working out of socio-economic issues that are shared with input from the wider diaspora Alliances located larger countries such as US and Canada.
Since Africa sees the Caribbean as part of its Diaspora we also want to build connections with Africa and their Diaspora.
We believe the Church and Christians not only can play a role in bringing change but can be a catalyst for others to become more involved in bringing change to their nations.
Prof. The Honorable Errol Miller in his lecture on the occasion Bethel Baptist Church 60th Anniversary November 11, 2015, Kingston Jamaica, described the church’s role under the following heading:
“The Church, through the free village movement accomplished four profound outcomes. First, it enabled many among the newly freed to successfully reject the attempt of many planters to use slave housing and provision grounds as leverage to continue the conditions of slavery. Second, enabled the newly freed to use capital saved and expertise developed during slavery to expand and consolidate the space that they had carved out in the domestic economy through enterprise and ingenuity. Third, it laid the foundation of wholesome rural communities and the black middle class of Jamaica. Fourth, the free village idea was constructive, radical and transformative. It allowed previously enslaved to move away for the scene and site of their degradation and humiliation, to debunk the myth of their indolence, to affirm their personhood, to live with dignity, to worship with freedom and to embrace the opportunities of education.”
“No accurate account of the education system that currently exists in Jamaica excludes the impact of the Church in its creation and operation until independence. Government as the major provider and operator of the education system is a phenomenon since independence in 1962. From emancipation to independence the Church was the prime mover in creating education capacity. Since independence the Government has expanded and improved the capacity established by the church. It has Education is a crucial capacity in any nation. The instrumentality of the Church in creating and building education capacity in Jamaica is beyond dispute.”
Rev William J. Gardner, Minister of the North Street Congregational Church, in his book History of Jamaica, first published in 1873, stated that the first building society was founded in 1864 by a ‘few friends anxious to promote the wellbeing of the working and middle classes.’ He stated “Its income at first was small, but in 1871 profits were for the first time declared, and shares, upon which sixteen guineas had been paid by installments of four shillings per month for seven years, were found entitled to five per cent interest making 20 pounds, and a bonus of five pounds nine shillings and six pence in addition. The safety of the project thus proved, great numbers has since joined and its income in 1872 was about twenty thousand pounds. It is purely mutual in its character, and provided many people with excellent homes they could have obtained in no other way.’ What Rev Gardner did not say in his book was that he was the leader of the few friends and the founder of the first building society in Jamaica, the Kingston Benefit Building Society.
After 1871 the building society concept spread rapidly. Rev Henry Clarke was the earliest adopter in leading the effort to found the Westmoreland Building Society in 1872, followed by Rev Cork in 1874 with the founding of the St James Benefit and Building Society, and in 1878 the Rev Douglas Downer Rector of Kingston with the founding of the Victoria Mutual Building Society. By 1900 almost every parish had a building society for example the St Ann Benefit and Building Society; the St Elizabeth Benefit and Building Society the Manchester Mutual Building Society; the Trelawny Benefit and Building Society and the St Mary Benefit and Building Society”.
It is clear then that the role of building societies (literally) and the concept of a group of people coming together for mutual financial support – the birth building societies – has shaped the Jamaican heritage. The Jamaica and its diaspora has thrived on this legacy. It is what has kept the culture in some aspects, and what we are building on in our Christian Diaspora Conference. Building out the Christian Diaspora Alliances in all diaspora regions is critical to harnessing this heritage. Below is the press release in the UK on the launch of the UK Christian Alliance.