MONTEGO BAY, St James - The Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) will on Thursday (February 21) launch the Salt Spring Peace and Justice Centre in that inner-city community of St James.
Member of Parliament for the area Lloyd B Smith and programme manager of Citizens Security and Justice programme Simeon Robinson, are among the speakers scheduled for the launch.
St James has been battling with its growing reputation as the hub of organised crime in the face of the lottery scam, multiple killings and other serious offences.
JBU General Secretary, the Rev Karl B Johnson, describes the venture as providing space for conflict resolution, training, projects for human development, among other things.
“This centre will go a far away in addressing the needs of many whose lives experience turmoil, dislocation and are without the necessary coping mechanisms to empower them on a journey towards wholeness,” says Johnson.
The centre will be housed at the Salt Spring Baptist Church and is expected to play a practical role in the promotion of peace and justice in the surrounding volatile areas.
It will collaborate with agencies and entities with a similar remit, but will ground its interventions on Christian principles.
“The Peace and Justice Centre will play a direct and proactive role in detecting and diffusing community tension before escalation to violence,” Johnson adds.
As part of its proactive role, it will offer training in parenting skills and will assist in identifying, screening and referring persons for vocational training. Leadership training will also be offered to local community groups.
The facility will be staffed by an administrator and a full time social worker/psychologist with others co-opted as required to assist in the creation of an environment of peace.
Policy directives for the centre will come from a Board named by the Jamaica Baptist Union and will include representatives from the St James Peace Management Initiative, the Citizens' Security and Justice Programme and the Public Relations Arm of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The Superintendent Minister for the region, the Jamaica Baptist Union Parish Association Moderator, and representatives from the Salt Spring Baptist Church will also sit on the Board.
The JBU intends to eventually replicate the pilot project in each parish as the practical outworking of the Church's mission and focus on peace.