First female President for JBU
The Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) witnessed a moment of history when it welcomed its first female President on Sunday (25 February)
The Revd Karen Kirlew assumed the role during the 168th JBU General Assembly after being elected the previous year.
‘Never before have we seen such excitement, such enthusiasm and such expectation for an incoming President,’ said her predecessor the Revd Devon Dick as he led the act of installation (pictured).
Karen is the pastor of the St. Ann’s Bay Circuit of Baptist Churches. She became a Christian aged 14 and spent 10 months in Britain as part of a mission team in 1994-5. On her return her then pastor, the Revd Dr Neville Callam, suggested pastoral ministry to her.
‘He was convinced this was my calling and helped me to realise that God had a particular calling upon my life,’ she told the Jamaica Observer.
‘It set me on a different path and allowed me to think in a different way — one I had not considered before.
‘Things took off from there, and by the time I applied for ministry I got the feeling this was it, because the support was there from the church community as they have to recommend you as well.
‘It was a matter of doing what I was doing for the love of the Lord and God’s people.’
This has continued to this day. Despite some initial apprehension her new role, she said ‘God knows what he’s doing.’
‘It was uncontested, and the constituents were very elated and overjoyed. People are excited, people are on the edge, and it has a lot to do with being part of history.
‘But together the leaders of the church discern what approach to take as God instructs us, and whatever vision is to be realised we will do it together.’
Along with a new executive, she will lead the 40,000 strong denomination for the next two years, under the decade-long thematic banner and new sub-theme: Being God’s People in God’s World: Living in Partnership.
In an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, she said restoring 'dignity' to the nation is one of her goals, and hopes there will be a renewed focus on how the Church can facilitate new expressions of dignity in social interactions.
JBU General Secretary the Revd Karl B Johnson described Karen becoming President as ‘an historic and exciting moment for all Baptists in Jamaica.’
She was also welcomed by the Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
‘British Baptists rejoice with our Jamaican Baptist sisters and brothers in Christ at the appointment of the Revd Karen Kirlew as their first female President,’ Lynn said.
‘We are praying with you that the Lord who pours out His Holy Spirit on all people, will be anointing and empowering Karen for this ministry at this time.
‘I hope that I will be able to meet Karen in person this year and I look forward to all that she might contribute to the richness of the relationship we share as the JBU and the BUGB.’
In 2014 a series of events was held to mark the Bicentenary of the relationship between the JBU, BUGB and BMS World Mission (BMS). There continues to be a productive relationship through initiatives such as the Sam Sharpe Project and the Inspiring Leadership Programme.