March 1, 2009

06CN: Patrick Allen Becomes Jamaica's Governor-General Today

Patrick Allen Becomes Jamaica’s
Governor-General Today

First Adventist’s Ascent Celebrated, Debated in Local Media                                   [Read Updated Story]

 BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, Adventist Review, reporting from Kingston, Jamaica     

capIt’s the entire front page of the Jamaica Daily Oberserver, the lead editorial subject in the Jamaica Gleaner, and the talk of Kingston and the rest of this island: a Seventh-day Adventist pastor will become chief of state today (February 26).

patrick allen

[Photo: Mark Kellner/AR]

In a twilight ceremony, Patrick Allen, until recently president of the West Indies Union, will be invested with the Insignia of the Order of the Nation, the second-highest honor in Jamaica, and sworn in as Governor-General, the sixth since the country’s independence. He succeeds Sir Kenneth Hall, who stepped down last year due to ill health. Hall is expected to present Allen with the Royal Commission given the officeholder.

Allen, a veteran Seventh-day Adventist pastor and administrator, was named to the position on January 13, under recommendation of Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding and the approval of Queen Elizabeth II, whom Allen will represent on the island. His job is chiefly ceremonial, to represent the monarch, but it also involves appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, and calling or dismissing Parliament. As the Daily Observer noted, Allen’s “assent is necessary for laws to come into effect” and “only in a few cases is he empowered to act on his own discretion.”

Although Adventists make up about 12 percent of Jamaica’s population, there is still some debate over Allen’s appointment. The Gleaner attempted to separate fact from fiction with a rundown of core Seventh-day Adventist beliefs on page A2 of the paper, at first noting that “it’s crazy that they go 24 hours on the Sabbath without watching HBO or Cinemax.” The paper then accurately noted the basic beliefs of Adventism.

In an editorial, the Gleaner said “we do not, however, share the expressed fears about Dr. Allen, a highly intelligent and decent human being, who will be guided by the Constitution and the law and the appropriate balance of public sentiment.”

The paper also published a letter to the editor wishing Allen well: “I am hoping that the kind of sympathy and care he showed as a pastor will be transferred to his new role,” wrote Dave McFarlance of Manchester.

Along with Prime Minister Golding, some 2,000 guests are expected to attend the ceremony, including the Governor-General of St. Kitts and Nevis, and the presidents of Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. Several Seventh-day Adventist leaders will also be in attendance.

The Adventist Review Online will carry a complete report of Patrick Allen's installation ceremony on Friday (February 27).