I am pleased at having been afforded this chance, as patron of this event, to join you this morning in preparing for the challenges and triumphs of the next twelve (12) months.

For the past thirty one (31) years, we have been gathering with the leadership of this nation from the political, civic, religious and other sectors, at the beginning of the year for prayer. We can do no less now, as we embark upon a new decade.

Despite the cynicism that surrounds this act of reverence, Jamaicans remain deeply connected to their spiritual and Christian heritage. For that reason, our gathering is not a mere ritual of routine; nor empty, vacuous expression of the superstitious. It is an act of proven faith at work, both in retrospect and in prospect.

Therefore, Lady Allen and I express our appreciation for your making the time to share in this significant corporate rite, as well as our commendations to the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Team and sponsor Victoria Mutual Building Society that has faithfully provided this forum.

We have a role of critical moment in seeking to lead our country aright.  The Church continues to play its role as the ‘watchmen on the walls’ who must warn of danger, reassure from fear and guide towards peace. And watch we must! Because there are many travails that lie in wait to ensnare and entrap our people. We watch and pray against natural disasters, against the socio-political forces that can cause great harm to our people, and we watch and pray for God to lift up a standard to defend us against perils and dangers.

As we focus on the theme of this breakfast: Honouring the Trust”: we note that it comes at a time when many persons feel that a breach of trust has taken place among us all as a people. We therefore are called upon to pray that we will be able to rebuild the confidence and to honour the trust. This mandate is apropos to leaders in all spheres of life. Of great misfortune is the frequency with which the emphasis is skewed to the political leadership, while other leaders either abscond their responsibilities or become oblivious to the power that they wield. We are all leaders and we are all responsible for Jamaica.

I urge you to pray today that all who are in leadership: whether in entertainment or in finance, whether in the private or public sectors: will treat this trust with the sanctity and seriousness it deserves. The bar is set higher for leaders, and we must carefully use our high offices not to criticize fellow leaders but to “share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear, and often for each other say and sympathizing prayer.”

With your indulgence, I would close with this narrative:

One day, a man and his young daughter were crossing a bridge. The father was scared so he said to his daughter, “Please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl said, “No dad, you hold my hand.” “What is the difference the father asked?”  “There is a big difference,” she replied.  “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are I may let go.  But if you hold my hand I know that no matter what happens, you will never let me go.”

As we commit to honouring the trust, let us put our hands in the hands of God, allowing him to hold us and with that trust we can trust each other.

Ladies and Gentlemen, God bless you, and God bless Jamaica