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World News

Jamaican government accepts URC's apology over slavery

by Premier Journalist

The Jamaican government has accepted an apology from Britain’s United Reformed Church (URC) over its historic involvement with slavery.

The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), a partner of the URC, has also offered to return the ownership of land tainted by slavery in a move aimed at reparation and reconciliation.

The Hon Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, accepted the apology after it was made at an ecumenical service in St Andrew near Kingston.

She said the country remains committed to demanding reparations for the hundreds of years of chattel enslavement of Africans on plantations on the island.

She also encouraged other UK churches and the UK government to apologise.

The apology happened when the URC’s general assembly moderator, the Rev Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, visited Jamaica with the organisation’s secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, and its Southern Synod’s Children’s and Youth Development officer.

Rev Henry-Robinson said the pilgrimage had been “profoundly eye-opening” and represented “a significant step towards healing and reconciliation”, adding: “I am deeply moved by the gracious acceptance of the United Reformed Church’s apology by Jamaica’s Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, which underscores the transformative power of acknowledging historical wrongs and expressing genuine remorse.”

Rev Gary Harriott, moderator of The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), who accepted the apology during the service, pledged, on behalf of the UCJCI, to give parcels of land it had received from those who profited from slavery to the most vulnerable.

He said that the scars of the “barbaric” history of slavery continue to haunt the descendants of the enslaved, adding: “I stand in a posture of thanksgiving to God to receive the apology of our sisters and brothers from the United Reformed Church for the complicity of their forefathers and ‘foremothers’ in the enslavement of other human beings”.

“We stand grateful because this ecumenical service of worship represents a sign of resurrection, a sign of hope”, he said, adding that he rejoices that the church has found the courage to acknowledge its wrongdoings.



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