Desmond Green speaks to a group of young men at the new Reverence for Life CenterA ministry that single-handedly reformed the often violent and unproductive Jamaican prison system of the late 1990s recently opened a center in Hartford’s northend.Founded by Desmond Green Reverence for Life Ministries is not your typical ministry. It emphasizes positive thinking and it’s goal is to create a culture of life affirming values, Green explained. He said if you accept this belief you start taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. It’s then, “You have a life to value,” he said.
Unlike established religions, Reverence for Life, does not promise heaven and does not believe in original sin. It’s not rooted in dogma and is based more on practice than creeds. Instead, it practices what Green describes as God consciousness, which embraces the idea that God is in all of us. “There’s nothing promised about life because everything real has already been delivered,” Green said. “The kingdom of heaven lives in you.“The philosophy emphasizes positive thinking and it’s goal is to create a culture of life affirming values, Green said. He said if you accept this belief you start taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. “You have a life to value,” he said.He said the established churches tell people to fix who they are, but “you can’t embrace who you are as long as you’re trying to fix yourself” to fit into some kind of dogma. “Sin has no philosophical representation. It’s up to what I say it is, an illusion,” Green said. In 1993 the recidivism rate in Jamaica’s prison system was 50 percent. After the Reverence for Life program was introduced in 1996 that rate trended downward to 25 percent by 1998, according to an article written by Camella Rhone, the former Director General of Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Technology.Green said it’s because Reverence for Life helped the inmates realized that they were “the driving force behind their own rehabilitation.” He said once the program was in full force the prison guards went on strike because they didn’t feel they were needed anymore. “The wardens became dispensable. The men were taking care of themselves,” Green said. Click here to read one of the inmates experiences. And here to learn more about the program. The organization’s center located at 189 Westland Street opened up about three months ago and is in a neighborhood plagued by the recent insurgence of youth violence. Reverence for Life Center in HartfordAs part of the ministry the organization wants to offer the center as a place for positive creativity, Angelo Brown, the center’s program director, said. “A lot of people never get a chance to experience what they like,” Brown said. The center is here to help youth and adults get those experiences, whatever they may be, he said. If we don’t know how to do it we’ll find someone with the expertise who does, he said. Entrance at 189 Westland StreetFor more information, call 524-8161.