• Administration Building

    Administration Building

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    Main Dorm Building

  • Registry Department

    Registry Department

  • Zenas Gerig Library

    Zenas Gerig Library

  • IFLT Building

    IFLT Building

  • Registry Department

    Registry Department

  • JTS' Main Building

    JTS' Main Building

The President’s Message

Rev. Dr. Garnett Roper

I welcome all to this JTS Graduation ceremony. I wish to welcome the Hon Rev Dr Burchell Taylor who is guest speaker today. Rev Dr Taylor is on the eve of his retirement from his pastorate at the Bethel Baptist Church that has spanned nearly five decades. Through his long stewardship he has been a friend of JTS. He taught ethics here while I was a student, during the period 1976 and beyond and he taught a Masters class on the Apocalypse of John this semester. We pay tribute to him as an outstanding servant of the Lord and son of the soil. We thank him for all the ways he has been a pioneer and standard-bearer. We look forward to the fullest publication of his work and wish for him a wonderful retirement. I am looking forward to your magnum opus today to the class of 2017. I welcome Dr David Corbin, the recently installed President of CGST. David and his wife Lorna are alumni of JTS. We accept his appointment as validation if not also vindication of JTS. We hope his appointment will signal a new beginning in the JTS CGST relationship. I also welcome Dr. Winston Thompson member of the class of 1976 who has recently retired as Dean of Broward College and joins the staff having served on the Board of JTS. Dr Thompson will assume responsibilities of Vice President of JTS and will have responsibility for Academic Affairs.

I welcome the members of the class of 2017. There are 55 members of the class among them are two firsts. This is the first time we are graduating any one from the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behaviour Analysis Programme and Ms Irene Clark is the first graduate from the JTS Masters in Public Theology.

The year that has just been completed brought with it immense financial challenges. These were as could have been anticipated and we believe that we have emerged with a clarified vision of the future. I want to thank the Chairman, Mr Linroy Marshall, who at this evening’s graduation is being represented by Rev. Dr. Len Anglin. He has led the board of Governors into a very intense process in which we have come out with a clarified sense of what is required to take the JTS institution into the future, giving testimony to the statement that this vine of God’s planting shall ever endure. We thank the Board members and all committee chairs for enormous effort. We offer condolences to Director Sonia Beaton-Bogle who recently lost her father. Out of the effort of the Board the following time table has been adopted in discussions with the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ). We are submitting for programme accreditation and re-accreditation, the following: BA Theology, BA Guidance and Counseling, Bachelors of Social Work, Bachelors of Arts in Social and Professional Transformation, Bachelors of Arts in Applied Behaviour Analysis, Masters of Arts in Bible and Masters of Arts in Public Theology. It is anticipated that the UCJ will make its accreditation site visit before the end of 2017. In addition, JTS commences its application to attain University College status in September 2017. This process is anticipated to be completed by January 2019. In the meantime JTS has to settle on the name of the University College. Among the name being considered are the following: JTS University College, Gerig University College, Torch University College, Jamaica International University College and Transcaribbean University College. Members of the JTS family here gathered are welcome to give their input on the name to be adopted for the University College. Whatever, name is chosen, the name Jamaica Theological Seminary will be retained as the name of the theological school within the university college. During the quest for University College status, Institutional accreditation will be pursued with the UCJ.

Both the enhanced governance process with oversight by the JTS Board and the pursuit of upgraded status have come out of the hard times. This is what it means when it says we are tried by fire we come out as pure gold.

I identify two of those tests that are challenging the very foundation of what we do. The first is the financial test. Clearly we are in search of a business model that provides a flow of funds that is able to make what we do smoother and more predictable. This is an ongoing requirement and is a test faced every age. It requires on the part of those who are our supporters increased generosity and capacity. The more you are blessed and the more you are generous towards the project of faith based tertiary education in which JTS is engaged, the better off we will be. But it also requires fiscal discipline and innovation on the part of the managers. For our part the solution is the problem. We are looking at that mass of youth that are neither in training nor in employment and targeting them to developing what are called Finishing Schools in parallel with the degree programme. If we succeed we will produce a more confident, self directed and self-controlled young person who can participate in the work force at a heightened level. We are therefore not daunted but are digging our heels in for a long fight.

The more significant test has to do with whether or not our project is essential. Do we believe that what we set out to accomplish through an institution like JTS is essential? Is it the task that we ought to be performing to provide the church and the community with persons who know Christ and who are seeking to make his power, grace and presence real by their words and by their deeds? Is that still an essential task? We believe it is. We raise these questions within a very challenging global and local context. On the local front there is tremendous loss of lives through a high homicide rate that is threatening everything we hold dare in the society. We feel powerless as more and more of us stand idly by and watch the slaughter of our brothers and sisters. This is also in a context of a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor. More than both of these are the loss of faith in the truth, we live in a post fact, post truth world. This is a global context in which empire is baring its ugly face without scruples and without regard to what is true fair and just. We believe it is necessary to train persons with higher motivation, not for money or fame but for the good of others and the glory of God’s name. We believe it is necessary to train persons with a single eye to the glory of God. We believe when we provide the community and the church with a cadre of leaders who communicate well, who lead balanced lives, who make sound ethical decisions and have a solidly grounded moral compass we do mankind a great service. The fifty-five members of the class of 2017 represent such a group of persons. We will continue on that pathway, refining our methods renewing our faculty and strengthening our institution.

Some notable members of our Community will leave us at the end of this academic year: They include Academic Dean, David Pearson who moves on to work in the wider Caribbean but thankfully will also continue to teach on JTS On Line. The Rev Mr. Teddy Jones who demits office as Student Affairs Director on June 30th 2017 to serve his charge at Grace Missionary Church. Ms. Jeweleen Dillon, Assistant to the President will pursue further studies. We thank all three for their sterling contribution. We also express appreciation to those who have recently retired. Mrs. Madge Spencer has retired but is still available to help JTS/CGST Library until her replacement is identified. Mrs. Elizabeth Wolliston and Mrs. Enid Hart also retired as Ancillary workers during the course of this year.

A special fund raising drive has commenced under the leadership of the elder statesmen from the Missionary Church Association (MCA) and the Church of God in Jamaica, the Rev Peter Spencer and the Rev Len Anglin respectively. We also thank Mr. Robert Linton who is a JTS Director who coordinates the overseas drive from his home in Florida.

The JTS will commence the application process with the UCJ in September 2017 to become a University College. That process will have an anticipated completion date of January 2019. We want to count on your prayers and we need all hands on deck. A University College offers programmes of study leading to a bachelors and masters degrees. This would be a landmark development and we will work assiduously. We welcome applications to fill five vacancies as well as other vacancies in faculty for the 2017/18 academic year.

Class of 2017, I call your attention to the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2.10ff. I want you to bear in mind that the man writing these words was incarcerated. I want you to bear in mind that what he says here are not mere words he read somewhere and they inspired him. These are the things that define and characterize him. This is Paul, what he knows and who he wants to continue to get to know. Listen to him and make his words come to be your life, for the rest of your life:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. May your journey take you forward and onward but above all heaven ward. God bless you.


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