March 4, 2016: After the general election last week gave the Jamaica Labour Party 33 of the 63 seats in parliament, the Hon. Andrew Holness was sworn in yesterday as prime minister of the Caribbean nation. He grew up in the Spanish Town Seventh-day Adventist Church and on the Sabbath following the vote attended the Andrew’s Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church with his wife Juliet, who was also elected to parliament; the first time that spouses have served together in the national legislature.
Holness is 43 years of age and previously served as prime minister in 2011-2012. Prior to that he served as education minister of Jamaica. When he was first sworn in as prime minister on October 23, 2011, he was the youngest person to ever hold the top government position in the country.
The Labour Party in Jamaica is a misnomer in terms of most political parties with that label among Commonwealth nations, sources told Adventist Today. It is the more market-oriented, while the People’s National Party is more socialist. Holness has a background in business with a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in development from the University of the West Indies.
Holness was a protege of former prime minister Edward Seaga, serving as his special assistant from 1996 to 2000. He first became a member of parliament at age 25 and represents a new generation of leadership in Jamaica.
Adventists currently hold both of the top leadership positions in Jamaica. The Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, is also an Adventist and a graduate of Andrews University. He was the union conference president in Jamaica, the national leader of the Adventist denomination, when he was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. He resigned from denominational employment to take office but continues to be an Adventist minister.
Holness did not attend Adventist schools or work for the denomination. He often refers to his working class background and describes himself as pro-business and pro-people. He has said in public speeches, “I love the poor but I hate poverty.”
According to U.S. State Department information, Adventists constitute the second largest denomination in Jamaica with about 11 percent of the population in the most recent census. A Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God of Prophecy has about a quarter of the population. A number of members of parliament are Adventists.