In July 2023, the first in-person, regional convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in history was conducted in the Jamaican Creole, also known as Jamaican Patois. Some 2,000 people attended the convention, eager to enjoy the “Exercise Patience” theme in their native language.
Many Patois Speakers
While the official language of Jamaica is English, most island residents also speak Jamaican Patois, and there is a move in the country to replace English with Patois as the official language. The convention, which was attended by individuals who traveled from the United Kingdom and the United States, was held at the Marlie Technology Park in Old Harbor, Jamaica, on July 14-16, 2023. Jamaican Creole-speaking members greeted the convention attendees with a sign that read, “Welcome!” in the language.
Thrilled to Speak Jamaican Patois
The Jehovah’s Witnesses from Jamaica said they were “thrilled” to experience the convention in their native language for the first time. According to Sister Tenesha Gordon, when the convention program began and the greetings were spoked in Jamaican Creole, “tears came to my eyes.” The attendees sang songs and enjoyed fellowship in what many of them called the “language of their heart.”
Patois Accepted By Witnesses
A debate continues over the acceptability of Jamaican Patois as a language, but Jehovah’s Witnesses rely on Revelation 14:6, which states that the good news should be declared “…to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” A Remote Translation Office (RTO) was created in 2016 to meet the need for literature in Jamaican Creole. The office is staffed with volunteers who translate from English to Jamaican Creole the publications used by the Witnesses in their congregation meetings and public ministry.
Jamaican Patois Congregations
The first Jamaican Creole Congregation was created in 2019, and there are now 29 such congregations and two groups organized in two circuits in Jamaica. At these gatherings, the sermon is delivered in Jamaican Creole, and those in attendance communicate in the Jamaican language. There are also 13 congregations and two groups in the United States, one in Canada, one in England, and a group in Curacao, which carry out their worship entirely in Jamaican Creole. The National Spokesman for Jamaica, Peter Scudamore, noted the truly historic occurrence for Jamaica’s Jehovah’s Witnesses as it was testimony that the congregation’s efforts to reach groups who speak an unofficial language have succeeded.
“Exercise Patience” was The Theme
The theme of the three-day 2023 convention was “Exercise Patience!” The program discussed how the exercise of patience can help with reaching goals, improve relationships with friends and family, and aid when asking God for help. A featured drama entitled “Commit Your Way to Jehovah” was presented as well. It focused on what happens when good people must confront difficulties that threaten their peace, livelihood, and life. It tells the story of how a family handles the challenges and learns to be patient in waiting on Jehovah.
Photo – Deposit Photos