Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Thursday | July 30, 2009
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Revivalist cleric reaches out to youths, elderly
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer

Bishop Sharn Lawrence (centre) poses with Richard Wilson, episcopate bishop, and Victoria Davis, archdeacon, of the St Jude Free Gospel Mount Zion denomination. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

Bishop Sharn Lawrence, the first appointed provost cardinal for St Jude Free Gospel Mount Zion, a Revivalist denomination, has committed to extend a helping hand to motivate and rescue destitute and marginalised youths and senior citizens.

Lawrence was promoted to the position in an elevation service at the church in Time and Patience, Linstead, recently.

Provost cardinal is that church's highest diocesan rank.

He is the first person in that denomination to be appointed to the position and he will oversee churches islandwide and overseas.

Lawrence operates a home for elderly persons who are in need of care, as well as children without a family. Currently, the St Jude Charity Ministry houses eight persons. However, he also provides schooling for 20 other children and, with the help of Dr Sandra Nesbeth, has secured free health services for them.

Though the institution is a non-profit organisation, Lawrence said he was happy to help society's less fortunate.

"It's an organisation for anyone in need. They don't have to be a member of the church; as long as they need help, I am open to assist," he told The Gleaner.

The provost cardinal's charity doesn't stop there. He has plans to start an institution that provides training for school dropouts as well as craft a programme to re-engage elderly folk who have no family.

Parental guidance

Lawrence said his own tough childhood had laid a platform for him to change many lives.

"I grew up without parental guidance and I know what it is like to be without a home and food to eat, so I am willing to help others who are along that path," he explained.

Lawrence stopped attending school at age nine but was able to reap success through handwork and dedication to his Christian faith.

He said he became a Christian at age 14 at the Mount Zion Assembly Church in Clarendon and survived on earnings from menial labour in the community.

The bishop then moved on to England where he studied "the great teaching and prophecy of the Bible". Lawrence returned to Jamaica in 1988 and was ordained a pastor one year later. He was appointed archbishop in 1993.

Nesbeth, the Jamaica Labour Party caretaker for North West St Catherine, lauded the archbishop's services to the community.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in a message sent to the recent elevation ceremony, said Lawrence's sterling and visionary leadership in the Church was what Jamaica needed to chart a path to recovery.


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