Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Orantes Moore Gleaner Writer

AS ONE of the most re­spected and long­est-serv­ing min­is­ters in St Mary, Rev­erend Ker­mitt Jones has been shocked by the wave of vi­o­lent crime af­flict­ing the parish in re­cent times.

With more than two months of the years still re­main­ing, there have al­ready been more killings in St Mary than there were in 2015, and Jones, who serves as the parish over­seer for the Pen­te­costal Church of God, fears that the sit­u­a­tion may es­ca­late if church and com­mu­nity lead­ers fail to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion.

Speak­ing to Fam­ily and Re­li­gion ear­lier this week, the 80-year-old min­is­ter said: “I think a lot of the is­sues we are hav­ing start from fam­ily feuds, and some of the prob­lems I’m see­ing in­clude rape and the abuse of young chil­dren in the Port Maria area of St Mary.

“I think one of the rea­sons these things are hap­pen­ing is be­cause a lot of the time, there is no male fig­ure in the fam­ily, and if there is, he is not tak­ing up his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. When there is no re­spon­si­ble man in the home, it leaves the poor women in trou­ble, and be­cause of that, she has to go else­where to look for help, and that’s how some of these sit­u­a­tions can lead to mur­der.”

Nev­er­the­less, Jones, who at­tended Bi­ble school in the US in the late 1950s and is a re­cip­i­ent of the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s Award, be­lieves many of these con­cerns can be ad­dressed through greater so­cial and com­mu­nity co­he­sion.


He ex­plained: “Num­ber one; the Church needs to come to­gether be­cause we have too many denominational bar­ri­ers. Once, we had things like the Neigh­bour­hood Watch, Red Cross, and Bi­ble So­ci­ety that used to help make the com­mu­nity, but ev­ery­thing is bro­ken down now. And when these things come up, you hear peo­ple in the com­mu­nity ask­ing: ‘What am I go­ing to get out of it?’

“You can start these things for a cou­ple of months, but if peo­ple are not get­ting money and things like that, they stop com­ing and it breaks down. I also think get­ting more young peo­ple in­volved would help be­cause we re­ally need a united force where the Church is con­cerned.”

Jones notes that a gov­ern­ment me­di­a­tion cen­tre that opened one year ago in Port Maria should have made a great im­pact on low­er­ing the crime rate, but lo­cal res­i­dents have been un­able to use the fa­cil­ity be­cause of a lack of re­sources.

He ex­plained: “We have a me­di­a­tion cen­tre in Port Maria, but last week at our an­nual mag­is­trates meet­ing, we were dis­cussing how the venue needs ta­bles and chairs so that peo­ple can sit down and rea­son out their dif­fer­ences.

“The prob­lem is that all these things fall on the po­lice and JPs to sort out be­cause right now, there is noth­ing in there. But I think once we get the re­sources we need, the me­di­a­tion cen­tre will make a very big dif­fer­ence. Right now, the amount of things that I have to do as a JP is a big prob­lem.”

Rev­erend Ker­mitt Jones, St Mary min­is­ter.

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