(Note: Heavenly Highway Church in Jamaica will be the recipient of the 2016 Ed Stevens Offering)
The power and presence of the Lord has always been evident at Heavenly Highway.
The history of the Heavenly Highway General Baptist church is one that is rich and changing. Its history dates back to the time of Reverend Albert Russell and his wife, First Lady Louise Russell, in the year 1965. Initially the church started out with a small congregation. The physical structure was that of wooden walls
Heavenly Highway Congregation with a thatch roof and small board benches. Rev. Russell lived on the church grounds with his wife. He was a skilled baker who specialized in baking spice buns, ginger bulla and ‘kuup kuup’. These he sold from time to time by a place called Pen Gate in the community. The community personnel gave him their support.
However, as time passed on, a transition was made and Reverend Lloyd Hall was sent to continue on the foundation that was laid by Rev. Russell. Rev. Hall with the help of his wife, First Lady Donna Hall, Deacon Wendell Ford, sister Gloria Campbell secretary and sister Sonia Mignott treasurer, the church was led into another phase. Mention must also be made of the involvement of the missionaries such as Brother John Hibbs and his wife and Brother Terry Howser and other missionaries from America that were pivotal in further establishing and assisting this denomination here in Jamaica.
The ministry continued to build and grow, and its membership grew from the thirties to the sixties. The church was also re-roofed courtesy of Brother Terry and his team. This was a huge blessing for which the congregants were extremely grateful and appreciative. As time advanced Rev. Hall was called upon to pastor
Phillip Pusey, Terry Howser, George Williams another General Baptist church and so he handed over the reins to Rev. Phillip Pusey.
Rev. Phillip Pusey and First Lady Sis. Pusey were given the mandate to lead Heavenly Highway into the 21st century. Rev. Pusey’s first stint began in the year 2003 as Minister Pusey, when he was under the tutelage of Rev. Hall. Then in the year 2006 he became the pastor of Heavenly Highway General Baptist. They took over when the church was in transition mode from having a pastor of over twenty years and also when the world itself was shifting from the nineteenth century into a new dispensation-the 21st century. As they embarked on their new responsibilities they sought to build on the foundation that was laid spiritually, numerically, structurally and socially.
Heavenly Highway has always been a ministry that was an indicator of the power and presence of the Lord. Our Bible Studies have seen an increase in attendance and an improvement and infusion in technology. We are now able to have the use of a laptop, projector and a screen to assist in the delivery of the content of the word of God in our Bible Studies. To further assist with the mandate that has been given to the general church to go ye therefore, a special Mission Initiative program was instituted.
The Mission Initiative is a means by which we seek to minister to the unsaved among us whether in our families, at school, work or in the community. Then every first Sunday we set aside special time to reach out to the unsaved who have been invited to attend our services.
Our praise and worship ministry has been impacted in that it is now more vibrant and dynamic. There is also the infusion of technology to assist in our worship via our projector, laptop and screen. A dance ministry has also been attached to our worship arm.
Numerically, Heavenly Highway has seen an increase in membership. When Rev. Pusey took over the reins, the membership was in the sixties. Currently, our membership is that of over 100 and is consistently growing.
The church has also been impacted structurally and socially as many developments have occurred. The church has a perimeter fence, which was constructed in partnership with other contributors. We have further established a kitchen that allows us to continue to provide sumptuous meals for the indigent in our community. The ministry is now blessed with proper bathroom facilities and an office for our pastor. All these were done in partnership with our faithful contributors. This allows the church to cater to the social needs of the people it ministers to on a regular basis. It also gives the church a facelift and enhances its professional outlook.
Heavenly Highway is now prepared to further cater to its growing numbers as there is a challenge to comfortably house over four hundred people that may attend one of our special services. We are therefore envisioning constructing a facility that will facilitate the growth and development that we have experienced.
This vision has potential of evolving into something massive. It is not just limited to the physical structure but also encompasses that of our social, educational and economic needs. We are hoping to have a holistic ministry that is well equipped and advanced. This will further aid in propelling us to new heights as we broaden our horizons and our borders.
Socially and economically, the proposed complex will seek to meet the needs of its members and community by offering first class standards in the form of business opportunities. Jobs will be created that will assist persons to meet their own personal needs and thus be able to make further contributions to the ministry. This will also give rise to the ministry being able to better aid in sustaining itself financially. We also have in mind to house a gym, pharmacy and restaurant. Of course Rev. Pusey will also be in a much better position to offer various forms of counseling and guidance to the members and community personnel.
Educationally, we are also hoping to house an educational center- Heavenly Highway’s School of Excellence. The idea of a school is of paramount importance as it will provide for the needs of those who are weak in literacy and numeracy and also seek to help propel those who need the extra push to achieve further educational success.
Heavenly Highway is gearing up to becoming all that God has it to be. Thus, to Him be all the glory for what He has done and will continue to do.
(This article is a reprint from the Fall 2016 Capsule)