- Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller – Prime Minister
- Mr. Andrew Holness – Leader of the Opposition
- Honourable Ministers of Government
- Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and Lady Hall
- Hon. Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla – Chief Justice
- Hon. Mr. Justice Seymour Panton – President of the Court of Appeal
- Your Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps
- Reverend Dr. Peter Garth – Chairman, National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee
- Mr. Richard Powell – Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Mutual Building Society
- Members of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee
- Rev. Dr. Maitland Evans – President, International University of the Caribbean and Speaker for this Prayer Breakfast
- Other members of the Clergy
- Other leaders of the Public and Private Sectors and Participants
- Members of the media
- Ladies and gentlemen
As we start a New Year, I am pleased to join you in this supplicatory Breakfast Meeting for divine guidance and wisdom to illuminate our paths and to order our steps over the next twelve months.
For the past thirty-three years we have been gathering for the annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast in an attempt to foster unity within our nation among leaders in business, politics, civic and religious life and in other sectors of society. And even despite criticism and cynicism regarding its effectuality, we press on, convinced of the power of prayer and the need to continue to advocate for national unity. In this vein, I would also like to echo the words of David in Psalm 133:1 ‘How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters live together in unity.’
Lady Allen and I would like to express our appreciation to the many leaders, individuals and organisations that faithfully support this event each year. Once again we warmly commend the Victoria Mutual Building Society for their continued sponsorship, even as I continue to support as its Patron.
This year’s Prayer Breakfast theme as mentioned by our chairman “Love that Transforms,” is an inspired choice, you will agree with me, at a time like this, when there is much hurt and pain in our nation, whether from the impact of crime and violence, natural disasters, breakdown in family, the economic downturn, or various criticisms and disappointments which have affected the quality of life of our people.
Many of our compatriots are disillusioned or feel marginalized. Some are even embittered and refuse to accept that there is anything good that is happening in Jamaica. Too many suffer from low self-esteem and see themselves as condemned to their lot in life and this has implications for leadership as we are now charged to motivate and inspire. The negative energy generated by these emotions is not only injurious to the individuals themselves, but it weakens our social fabric, our sense of community and our country’s thrust for development.
We must continue to believe in ourselves, in our ability to develop our potentials and achieve our objectives – under God!
For Jamaica to be transformed, we must stem the wave of negativism. We must strive to reach the hearts and minds of our people, our best resource, through “love in action”. We must liberate ourselves from the bondage of hatred! From the vise of the thirst for vengeance and for the numbing shackles of indifference! It is only love which has the power to cause that transformation.
I recall some years ago when I served as headmaster in a school out in St Mary. Each morning after devotion students would recite a little gem: “This is our school, let love reign here: love of each other, love of mankind, love of life itself and love of God. Let us remember that as many hands build a house so many hearts build a school.” And I think we can say that for Jamaica itself- many hearts must come together to build Jamaica.
It is the love that we have for our country and the heart, which will persevere in the most discouraging and difficult times to achieving our mission! Love can transform our most painful burden into our richest blessing. Indeed, as Carole Reid and Rory Baugh sing so beautifully, “Love changes everything!”
As a national family, we shall have to face some tough decisions this year, for the longer-term good of our island. Through it all, our approach should be guided by love, mutual respect, wisdom and truth. These qualities should impel us to collaborate for the good of Jamaica, even when we must agree to disagree. Let love lead to and energize the partnerships in which we all must all engage at the various levels of leadership and in our communities, so that we may overcome the challenges that will face us in the year 2013 and beyond.
I pray today that our charitable actions will contribute to the healing, restoration and ultimately the prosperity of Jamaica. Let this healing begin in the Church itself. Regardless of the theological interpretations on which our denominations differ, we must be guided by the prayer of our Lord that His followers dwell in unity. The recent pharisaical conversations must not be allowed to inflame relations between different faith communities. We must exercise faith maturity and in love, pursue our common goal of serving humanity in the unity of the body of Christ. So Brothers and Sisters, who like Peter are rushing to cut off someone’s ear in defense of your philosophy, position and premonition, I say to you “sheathe your swords!”
Reverend Dr. Peter Garth, I commend you and the members of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee for not being weary in well doing, and I implore you to remain faithful and committed to the process which was started in 1981. Continue the efforts to increase the tangible expression of our love through the contributions from these Prayer Breakfasts, which already have enriched the lives of many individuals and created significant opportunities for growth and change.
Ladies and gentlemen; ‘live your life in full and live your life in love.’ May God bless you all and God bless Jamaica Land we love.