Jamaica Organization of NJ planned independence festivities for ‘08

EAST ORANGE, NJ – The Jamaican Organization of New Jersey (JON-J), non-profit representing Jamaican nationals in the Garden State, will celebrate the island nation’s 46th anniversary of independence from August 4-10.

Festivities kick off at noon on Aug. 4 in the plaza outside East Orange City Hall with activities that include displays by the Jamaica Tourist Board, music, food, giveaways, health screenings, as well as other cultural and civic displays and artistic presentations.

JONJ’s formal flag-raising ceremony starts at 5 p.m. on the steps of city hall with East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser, members of the city council, as well we other state and local officials.
Patrick Reid, JONJ’s newly-elected president, said a number of Jamaican dignitaries will attend, including Ambassador Anthony Johnson, Jamaica’s new Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington and Geneive Brown Metzger, newly-appointed Consul General of Jamaica in New York, will attend the event. It will be their first appearance in New Jersey.

Patrick Beckford, newly appointed director of the US Jamaican Diaspora Northeast region, and Irwine Clare of the Caribbean Immigrant Service in New York, will be guest speakers at the event.
“It is always a proud moment to see the black, green and gold flag hoisted in our adopted homeland,” said Reid. “This is our fourth year raising the flag in the City of East Orange. We are looking to duplicate these ceremonies in other cities across the state with a large concentration of Jamaican nationals.”

JONJ’s Independence celebration culminates with its annual thanksgiving service Sunday Aug. 10, 4-6 p.m., at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, where the Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, who has Jamaican roots, is the pastor.

The featured speaker at the thanksgiving will be the Rev. Neville Callam, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. Ambassador Johnson will also attend.

Reid said First Baptist, which boasts a sizable amount of Jamaican parishioners, will conduct all their morning and afternoon services with a Jamaican theme.

The thanksgiving service will feature the world renowned Chancery choir of the Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene and a number of Jamaican gospel soloists such as Claudelle Clarke, Hopeton Lewis, Joan Myers and George Gordon.

“This will be a festive occasion when we pause to give thanks for the many good fortunes that we enjoy in our adopted homeland and pray for our native land and its leaders,” Reid said.

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