Published On: Mon, Dec 4th, 2017

Minister Jacobs hosts Attitude of Gratitude Thanksgiving & Tree Lighting Ceremony

Thanksgiving Day Ceremony - Governor Holday & COM

Philipsburg – Today, December 3rd, the Government of St. Maarten in collaboration with the St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation (SMUMF), Christian Council (CC) successfully hosted and celebrated the annual Thanksgiving Service and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony heralding the end of the Hurricane Season 2017.

His Excellency Governor E.B. Holiday and Mrs. Holiday, Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams, Honorable Prime Minister Rafael Boasman, 1st Vice President of the Collectivite Mdme. Valerie Damaseau, Minister Silveria Jacobs, Deputy Governor Mr. and Mrs. Reynold Groeneveldt, along with several other Members of Parliament and the High Councils of State were among the dignitaries present.

Under the theme – “Attitude of Gratitude” – the praise and worship team of the Christian Fellowship Church kicked off the service with songs of praise and thanks to God, followed by the St. Martin Song being sung by Pastor Benjamin Bell and an opening prayer by Pastor Orlando Wilson.

The service continued with poignant hymns of thanks, words of welcome from the SMUMF representative Wally Havertong and touching remarks of resilience and gratitude from the Honorable Prime Minister Boasman, who asked the congregation to give thanks at all times, not only in good times. Even though we have been through the devastation of the hurricanes, we will, with an attitude of gratitude, continue to give thanks for his grace and mercy and allowing us to be here with health and strength to work together to rebuild our beautiful Soualiga.

Several renditions, scripture readings and prayers were contributed by representatives of the Seventh Day Adventist, SMUMF and CC.

Pastor Lewis Constant gave a heartrending and soul searching sermon, reminding the congregation that no one is higher than the Lord, He alone is God and he sees and knows all.

Calls were made during the sermon and prayers to put God first, Unity, Forgiveness, Love, Peace and Healing. All in all, the service was uplifting and brought participants a sense of peace and togetherness.

This sense of Peace and Hope was further realized with the commencement of caroling by the praise and worship team, and the lighting of the two Christmas trees by Prime Minister Boasman and Minister Jacobs. The service came to a close with the Vote of Thanks by Minister Silveria Jacobs who gave thanks to the organizers and participants of the service and ceremony and also took the opportunity to commend the community workers, churches and organizations who played a key role in helping the people of St. Maarten directly after the passage of Hurricane Irma and handed out certificates to the various representatives present. She also took time out to share the spirit of Christmas with those in need, and to continue to look out for neighbors and others still displaced or suffering at this time. The service ended with the benediction by Rev. Dr. Joan Delsol-Meade after which the Christmas Carol Medley allowed the congregation to mingle, meet and greet before leaving for their separate homes feeling blessed and refreshed.

Thanksgiving Day Ceremony 2017 - Minister Jacobs

Speech given by Minister Silveria Jacobs:

Despite having endured one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit our beautiful shores in over 20 years, we, the people of St. Martin are still standing strong, standing proud with an attitude of gratitude. We usually have this thanksgiving ceremony to celebrate the fact that we made it untouched and unaffected or sometimes minimally damaged through a hurricane season. However, this year 2017, we are celebrating the fact that although Irma came, which devastated our homes, cars, business, personal belongings and unleashed a frenzy on the island never seen before – We are still here, grateful for life and happy to see another day.

We have been through the emergency period and are well on our way to rebuild our Sweet S’Maatin better and stronger. It is evident that people are still suffering, that a number of households are still displaced, families who will need assistance for some time to come and the numbers are increasing by the day, however, through it all, and despite it all, we still have a lot to be thankful for. Most of us still have life, which does not diminish the lives lost, because even one life lost is one too many! Yet, we give God all the thanks and all the Glory, despite the storm where many more could have died. Some have suffered loss even after the storm, with the passing of loved ones, loss of limbs, jobs, missing children who were sent away, Yet We know he carried us through and will continue to sustain us.

Not only are we surviving almost 3 months after the storm, we are smiling again, we are moving forward and we are semper progressing. The goal is not to rebuild the same as we were pre-September 6th, but to be better and stronger as a country and as a people. We need all hands on deck, therefore the spirit of helping needs to continue through the days, weeks and months to come! Though some may now have power and water, and may feel we no longer need to check up on our neighbors as often as we once did, but we should not allow the amenities that once drove a wedge between neighbors and friends to continue.  Now is time we need to work together even harder to see our country progress. She, Sweet Soualiga, St. Martin, is counting on US.

Thank you to the community for coming together, praying together, worshipping together, standing strong and helping neighbors, family, strangers and friends.

Thank you to all who took part in the planning and preparation to make this ceremony possible and who contributed to the program in any form or fashion. Thank you.

Thank you to all stakeholders such as the KPSM, The Ministry of VROMI, VKS, Telem, Laser 101, GEBE, Ambulance Department, Fire Dept, Nurses, Tzi Chu Foundation, community heroes who stood up, and all others whole played a vital role in the immediate days after hurricane Irma. St. Martin is strong, St. Martin is resilient and St. Martin is smiling again. We are also smiling as today is also a beginning of Hope for us, a reminder that the Christ child was born, which we celebrate, simple and humble he came. To save us all. And so despite all we have endured, we welcome the Christmas season with gratitude.

May we all be able to enjoy a wonderful Christmas season. This is the season of giving, which is so fitting as there are so many who need. May your hearts be filled with the joy of giving, love, peace, a meal, and whatever else you have to share to help those who are most in need this Christmas and beyond.

On behalf of the Ministries of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, General Affairs and by extension the Government of St. Maarten, I would like to wish one and all Happy Holidays 2017!