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Humbled and Inspired

posted Jul 26, 2013, 4:36 PM by Lance Johnson   [ updated Aug 3, 2013, 6:41 PM ]

Humbled and Inspired

Many of you know that I have freshly returned from a week in Jamaica, West Indies. My three sisters and I had been invited to participate in the culminating worship celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Moravian Women’s Fellowship, an organization founded at Bethany in Manchester, Jamaica in 1942 by our grandmother, Mrs. Edith “Eda” Hicks Kneale.

Sis. Eda was born and raised in Jamaica and is buried there. Our family history on the island extends beyond her in both directions however. Our forbears, immigrating from Switzerland, England, and the United States, brought with them a deep commitment to the work of God, made manifest in their work as ministers, educators, and advocates for social and spiritual uplift. Eda’s grandfather funded the purchase of 2000 acres in the mountainous interior to plat and distribute to families newly released from slavery (slavery was outlawed in Jamaica in the 1830s). Her mother was the first principal of Bethlehem Teachers College, founded by the Moravians in 1861. Her father was an Inspector of Schools. She married a pastor and accompanied him from church to church, playing the organ, teaching in the Sunday School, and working on behalf of the women. The motto of the Moravian Women’s Fellowship remains, “With Goodwill Giving Service to the Lord” and their hymn, formulated in the early years, is “Help Somebody Today!”

I have always known bits and pieces of my history, but to have it come as vibrantly alive for me as it did during the recent week in Jamaica was a deeply moving experience. It was not only the past that we were all celebrating – but specifically the past as it nurtures and brings forth the living, breathing present that we were all inhabiting together! The phrases “from generation to generation” and “glory unto glory,” kept sounding in my heart.

O, how glad we were to gather as God’s daughters and sons at the New Beulah Moravian Church in Mandeville, on Sunday, the 14th of July, 2013! What a glorious crowd of strong, faithful, beautiful sisters of every hue, all dressed in white, all Spirit-led and fed! The paneled sides of the church were wide open and the sea of worshippers extended into the outside under tents and within sight of the flat-screen monitors that relayed the service as it unfolded. How we all stood and swayed and sang and rejoiced and responded to the good news of God’s love as the hymns rolled out and the message was preached! “Rejoice! Rise up and Build!”

I guessed there were some 1000 folk in attendance, praising God and dedicating themselves anew to the work – the joyous, hard and holy work of service unto God from which a bold and bright future will assuredly, continuously emerge. Among the celebrants were relatives of ours, including a cousin relocated to Jamaica with her husband via Ireland and Canada. They are expecting their first child in August. This little one will usher in the seventh generation of our family on Jamaican soil. Blessed and blessing.

Let us be good torch-bearers – mindful of what we have received and what we pass on. By the Grace and to the Glory of God.  


Pastor January, July 20, 2013

Help Somebody Today

Song of the Moravian Women’s Fellowship


Help somebody today,

Somebody along life’s way

Let sorrow be ended,

The friendless befriended

O, help somebody today.

Look all around us, find someone in need,

Help somebody today

Though it be little, a neighbourly deed

Help somebody today.

Many are waiting a kind loving word,

Help somebody today

Thou hast a message, O let it be heard

Help somebody today.

Many have burdens too heavy to bear,

Help somebody today.

Grief is the portion of some everywhere

Help somebody today.

Some are discouraged and weary in heart,

Help somebody today

Someone the journey to heaven should start

Help somebody today.

Lance Johnson,
Jul 26, 2013, 4:36 PM