Adventists in Jamaica Welcome Long-awaited Disability Act

Church leaders believe it is an important step to highlight the potential of every human.

Nigel Coke and Inter-American Division News
Adventists in Jamaica Welcome Long-awaited Disability Act
Members with disabilities participate in a Possibilities Ministries Convention at the Portmore Seventh-day Adventist Church March 7, 2020. [Photo: Central Jamaica Conference]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica is celebrating with those who are disabled, as it lauds the passing of the Disabilities Act.

The Disabilities Act 2014, which was passed in Parliament in October 2014 and reaffirmed by both houses of Parliament in October 2021, came into effect February 14, 2022.

“This is one of the ministries that our church places special emphasis on because we need to be all-inclusive,” Adrian Cotterell, coordinator of the Possibility Ministries for the Adventist Church in Jamaica, said. “We should never make the mistake of underestimating the abilities of persons with disabilities and must refrain from thinking or treating others who may look different as incompetent or inferior.”

While many refer to this ministry as “Disability Ministries,” the Adventist Church has decided on the nomenclature Possibility Ministries.

“We believe [in] the potentials, promises, possibilities, life-changing and transformational outcomes that can take place when we think and emphasize possibilities. We acknowledge that each person was created in the image of God and all are gifted, needed, and treasured in our church,” Cotterell explained.

Adrian Cotterell, coordinator of Possibilities Ministries for the Adventist Church in Jamaica. [Photo: Central Jamaica Conference]

The Adventist Church in Jamaica is one of many in the Adventist world church that devotes one week annually to celebrate those who are disabled.

“We do this to highlight the ministry and call attention to the need for total inclusion, total participation, total education, and total accessibility and [to] promote equal opportunities for all persons with disabilities,” Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, said. “As a church we will continue to do everything to ensure that the objectives of the Disabilities Act will be realized in our nation, particularly through our church.”

This year the church celebrates its Possibility Ministries Day as part of the March 7-12 week, under the theme “I Will Give.” The emphasis will be on sharing with people with disabilities for empowerment, encouragement, and enrichment of their lives, organizers said.

“We use this opportunity to call upon every citizen of this country to respect the rights of persons with disability and be reminded that all of us are broken and need healing. When we focus on possibilities, we look beyond the disability and see abilities, the beauty, the lovely, and the wonderful attributes to affirm, the attractiveness to admire, and the person to adore,” Cotterell said.

In October 2016, the Adventist Church launched the Portmore Deaf Church in St. Catherine. Since then, the congregation continues to grow, increasing from eight members to an average of 40 worshipping each Sabbath (Saturday), with capacity for 75 members. Currently, there are plans to set up another congregation in western Jamaica before the end of 2023.

According to the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), there are more than 30,000 persons in Jamaica who are either deaf or have some form of hearing impairment.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Nigel Coke and Inter-American Division News