Organisers of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast (NLPB) are calling for more positivity to be highlighted throughout the media landscape, and for citizens to recognise that their personal and collective influence can impact Jamaica positively.
The overall appeals were made at the launch of the NLPB’s 43rd staging on Wednesday.
The Prayer Breakfast is to be hosted in a hybrid fashion on Thursday, January 19, 2023, beginning at 7:30 am, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, with the live broadcast being streamed on local media and virtual platforms.
The theme this year is ‘Strengthening Communities through Peace, Justice and Forgiveness’.
In commenting on this year’s staging, Chairman of the NLPB Committee, Reverend Sam McCook, highlighted that this year’s theme speaks to communities being at the heart of what the NLPB does through its charitable efforts.
In pointing to the damage that was done to the Jamaican community by not only crime, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, over the past two years, the clergyman said it is important for the NLPB to use its influence, along with its partnership with the private sector, to make a difference in the society.
McCook said over the past 43 years, attempts have been made by the organisers to ensure that the prayer breakfast is “more relevant and meaningful”, noting the introduction of youth speakers.
This year, the Manchester High School choir, the winner of the Television Jamaica’s All Together Sing Competition, is to provide musical ministry, McCook announced.
He said this addition to the event is about “affirming something that is positive about our society, recognising the creative talent of our youngsters, and providing a platform where they can show their talent.”
The role of the NLPB, said McCook, is to also use “what little influence we have in ways that positively impact the society”.
To that end, he encouraged “our friends in the media, that as you chase after the shootings and the stabbings and all these things that naturally people regard as news, that you will also take some time to explore the positive things happening in our society, like the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast.
“Give us a platform so Jamaicans who may be discouraged, may be losing hope, can recognise that we are all one community, we are all affected by the same things, but we all have unique influence, and we should each use our influence to positively impact Jamaica.
“That is what the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast is about, and that is what our theme this year is about, ‘Strengthening Communities Through Peace, Justice and Forgiveness’.
“We pray that this will resonate through the country, and that we will become a community of persons who build on the connections we have, rather than pull apart,” stated McCook.
The event has been sponsored for the past 38 years by the Victoria Mutual (VM) Group.
President and Chief Executive Officer of VM Group, Courtney Campbell, speaking at the Prayer Breakfast launch, said this year’s theme has “the power to transform Jamaica”, and mooted for the attributes of peace, justice and forgiveness to characterise the nation going forward.
“… (I) really wish God will bless this prayer breakfast next week, that people will feel ministered to, that our leaders will leave feeling a new burst of energy, and a new commitment to strengthening our communities through peace, justice and forgiveness,” he remarked.
According to Vice-Chairman of the NLPB Committee, Pastor Claudia Ferguson, from the first prayer breakfast in 1981, a voluntary offering has been collected each year towards a public project, to help alleviate the immediate plight of those in great need.
The NLPB project for 2022 was the Clifton Boys’ Home in Darliston, Westmoreland, which received substantial assistance.
Reverend Major Canute Richards, Secretary of the NLPB Committee, announced this year’s recipient of the Prayer Breakfast project, and made a special appeal to the attendees at the launch.
“I am appealing now… at this time for those who will be in attendance, to give generously and handsomely to the cause so that, in faith, I can declare that the 2023 NLPB project recipient, which is the Student Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union (SCFSU), will receive handsomely from our patrons,” he urged.
Richards said the NPLB came together in 1980 at a time when political tribalism and other unfortunate social ills were evident in Jamaica.
The 2023 staging, said the clergyman, is to be held under the distinguished patronage of Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, and is “committedly, commendably, sternly and faithfully sponsored since 1985 – a total of 38 years – by the Victoria Mutual Group.”
To expand this year’s theme, the main speaker is to be Bishop Christine Gooden-Benguche, OD, the District President of the Jamaica Methodist Church, while David Salmon, the 2023 Rhode Scholar, is to address the youth.
There will be three prayers for the nation, one for each county in the island, as well.
As is the norm, greetings will come from patron of the event, Sir Patrick, with scripture readings from Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding.
Leaders of Government, civil society, business, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps and the church are expected to attend.