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Culture essential to evangelism, says Archbishop Kenneth Richards

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One post sums up his message: “God loves you! … He makes us realise that his love is not cheerless, but pure joy, welling up whenever we allow ourselves to be loved by him: ‘The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.’” (Zeph 3:17)

A quick scroll through the Instagram page of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, Kenneth Richards, says a lot about the measure of the man.

From pictures of him smiling with parishioners; cutting his birthday cake with his mother, Holdroyd McDonald; happily dancing and singing with pre-schoolers in Zimbabwe to rafting on the Rio Grande, Archbishop Richards is certainly not averse to having fun. But it is clear that he balances this with his mission, which is the preaching of the gospel.

One post sums up his message: “God loves you! … He makes us realise that his love is not cheerless, but pure joy, welling up whenever we allow ourselves to be loved by him: ‘The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.’” (Zeph 3:17).

And singing is one of the things that the archbishop does quite well. His celebrity status took off recently when he debuted his version of a 1995 Bounty Killer classic, Miss Ivy Last Son , during the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast. He substituted his own message-filled lyrics urging listeners to Run come up inna di church now, bwoy/Listen to the gospel, bwoy/Siddung pon di church bench/And yuh life will change.

The brouhaha that followed, while not totally unexpected, was unprecedented for the archbishop because as he pointed out, it was not the first time he was performing the track. From as far back as 1995, Archbishop Richards had reworked the lyrics and has been performing the ditty on special occasions.

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