Like most great ideas, Genesis Praise-Fest was inspired by friendship, history and the desire to create a meaningful experience when first held at the Karram Speid Auditorium on the Merl Grove High School grounds in 1986.
The inaugural staging marked the 40th anniversary of the hosts, Jamaica Youth for Christ (JFYC).
The event attracted 2000 patrons some of whom had to be turned back due to lack of space. At the time it featured a concert prior to the night watch services. Pastor Gerry Gallimore was a speaker for the event and American gospel artiste Alvin Slaughter was the main act.
The passion and spiritual fervor of the JYFC reached new heights over the years now as the group prepares to host the 31st staging in Kingston at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. Many of the gospel artistes scheduled to perform; Kevin Downswell and DJ Nicholas among others have been associated with the JYFC before and throughout their careers as gospel ministers.
Operations manager, Sherna Calvin told The Gleaner, “The events are not a big money making venture, JYFC is a not-for-profit organization that is driven on charitable work.”
It has continued with the same concept for 70 years that attracts more volunteers from churches and schools that participate in various outreach programmes.
Myriad of activities
“It’s been quite a year, with lots of activities but it is fulfilling as the JYFC continues to work with schools and churches,” she said.
Each activity ultimately invite folks of all ages on a journey to experience a myriad of projects focused on youth development, spiritual upliftment, rich regional spirit and ministry through music. Persons are known to answer the call to Christ at some of the events.
Last year’s Genesis event was held in four locations, locally in Montego Bay, Mandeville and Portmore and Florida as the international staging. It returns to Kingston with the watch night service starting at 12 a.m., going into the early morning hours.
“Genesis Praise-Fest is about wholesome entertainment, to find a way to keep youths of the street and aim to end 2017 and start 2018 right,” Calvin said.
“In future we may consider hosting another Genesis outside of the island but for this year the focus has been bringing it back to Kingston where it has been absent for a few years,” she added.
The JYFC has had numerous events to commemorate its 70th year along with the Genesis Praise-Fest including ‘Pier Praise Summer Party’, harbour cruise on Downtown’s waterfront in July, Talent for Christ performing arts competition, all-island school tours in all 14 parishes of Jamaica as well as the recently wrapped-up Florida tour.
The Florida tour was focused on different communities where the JFYC in association with the Friends of Jamaica Youth for Christ which consists of alumni and persons that have been a part of the organization hosted prayer breakfasts and seminars.
The year-long activities actually close with the launch of a movie production by JYFC on February 23.
The movie titled, Just Another Friday is part three of a sequel. It is one of the first full-length gospel movies that speak about concepts, choices and their consequences targeting young people. Each of the productions is approximately half-hour long. Part one and two are already available on DVD.