Who would believe that a small ministry to Chinese people in Jamaica would expand to be a multi-ethnic gathering such as this? The seed of Swallow’s formation may be traced to the work of a returning missionary from China, Mrs. Helen Gallimore, who with the support of her husband Rev. Herbert Gallimore founded a Chinese Christian Fellowship in 1937.
The local Church, Swallowfield Chapel emerged from this fellowship and was officially inaugurated during a Service of Dedication on October 15, 1970 at 5 Swallowfield Road with thirty members. It was established within an existing group of churches - the Assemblies of Christian Brethren. Most but not all, of its members were Chinese and messages preached were translated from English into ‘Haka’.
Cecil Ho, one of the founding elders served for 47 years and went home to be with our Lord in 2017.
The property at number five was purchased in the mid 1960s. And if the house still situated at the front of that property could talk, it would tell many a story; Stories of romance, comedies, friendly rivalries and mischief.
There was a time when several of our members lived in that house. It was a place for fellowship. Wednesday evenings after school, was for many years a time for football and dominoes. As more people came and ministries expanded, property development took place - the church now spans across 3 campuses, 5, 7 & 9 Swallowfield Road.
From a membership of 30 in 1970, the church grew to over 400 in 1999 and today has more than 1,000 members.
Meetings in the seventies included Family Bible hour on Sundays, prayer and ministry meetings on a Thursday and Youth Fellowship on Saturdays. There were singing groups like the Omegans, The Gospel Train (TGT), and the Chosen. Ministry to young people was a special feature. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, evangelistic outreaches into the neighbouring communities, sports and multiple recreational activities, and outings were the order of the day. The Church site was continuously abuzz with activity.
A wide cross section of high school students from Kingston and St. Andrew matured in the faith at Swallowfield. Camps involving the whole church also marked this period and were regarded as spiritual high points. Some will recall the great days at Dinthill Technical High School and later at the various HEART Academies and elsewhere.
The focus on the person and work of the Holy Spirit was a highpoint in the late seventies and into the ‘80s with 1985 being a watershed year. Reverend Everard Allen of the Brown’s Town Baptist Church in St. Ann helped pave the way for a greater appreciation for the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The period also evidenced enrichment in our music and worship and many creative artistic endeavours through plays, musicales, barbecues etc.
Our solitary Adult Bible class expanded into our Adult Christian Education (ACE) programme and the reinvigoration of our small group ministries dubbed care groups and discipleship groups all developed in the late eighties and early nineties.
The decade of the nineties was marked by increased and expanded involvement of our women in public ministry and women continue to spearhead significant ministries of the Church.
Since inception missions has been at the core of our purpose. And so we have supported short and long-term mission trips to Dominican Republic, Haiti, Antigua, Cuba, Honduras, Tanzania, Panama, Bolivia, West Africa and Mexico. The Church has held an annual missions conference since the 70s. We thank God for our missionaries.
Who would believe the growth of ministries from 6, in 1970 to currently 45? The establishment of Liberty Prep in 1994 and its further expansion into Liberty Academy at the Priory is an example. In 2001 we established Youth Reaching Youth (YRY) a post-secondary Christian leadership education programme. Under the leadership of its board, Programme Director, Angela Plunkett and staff, successive batches of youth leaders have completed the two-year programme cycle and graduated.
In 2000 we expanded our elders team and also ordained our Pastor David Henry who began serving on staff on February 1, 2001. We now have over 20 staff members.
In October 2013 we finally obtained title for Number 7 Swallowfield Road. We established Swallowfield Outreach Foundation (SOF) and have seen the unfolding of our vision for the development of our Transformational Oasis, a hub - serving the holistic needs of our church and communities of Swallowfield, Nannyville and beyond. We look forward to providing educational, vocational/ skills training, counselling, mediation, sporting/recreational facilities,and income generation among other offerings.
We envision families strengthened and a reduction in crime and violence. We see the class divides between uptown and downtown shattered as we share together in a common space and activities. We see the knowledge and application of the Word of God increased and the training and development of competent, moral and ethical leaders. We see talents, innovative ideas and the creative arts nurtured for the enrichment of our society.
The Oasis will be a model for the city, be environmentally friendly, energy efficient, boasting green areas and elegant landscaping. These properties are to be a safe space and place for us to experience and model God’s Shalom and catapult the transformation of our nation.
We praise you Lord for bringing us this far and as we continue our journey, we remember those who have finished their race and are not here physically but are amidst the heavenly throng cheering us on to fulfil our purpose.