She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “The divine will grant women the precursory role in the fight for the peace.”
Marjorie Prentice Saunders – Jamaica
She works for the United Church.
When she was a child, she chose a great road: God. Under his guidance, she carried out marriages, funerals, baptisms, qualifying courses for women, and workshops for educating immigrants. Marjorie Prentice Saunders was the first Jamaican woman to be a Minister of the Presbyterian Church. Revolutionary in her perspective, she was never afraid of breaking traditions. She gave a lifetime of service to education and social work through community mobilization.Marjorie Prentice was born on February 25th, 1913, in Galina, St. Mary, Jamaica. One hour later, her parents took her by horse on a three mile long trip to attend the opening of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church. Since then, she has been near the Lord Jesus Christ.
Her brothers taught her all types of tricks; they were privileged children considering the family’s position. When her mother died, she was eight years old. After that, she came much closer to her father, a wharf manager. By his hand, she understood that education was like magic: it needed to be shared. The older children helped to care for the younger ones with the help of a nanny. They never lacked affection and they were able to continue studying. She saved her money to go to college. She started in the “Bethlehem Training College”, in Malvern, in 1933, at the age of 20. After three years, she was a lawyer.
She recalls: “I began my work life as a teacher until later, when I chose to answer the call of the Church. But I never lost my interest in education”. She was headmistress at a primary school, the first woman School Inspector and co-founder of facilities for children and the “Meadowbrook High School”; she initiated the training of basic school teachers. She worked as well at the “Kelly Lawson Training Center”, a place to prepare women for working in the tourist industry.
While working as a traveling organizer for the “United Church”, in Jamaica, she observed several schools for small children that were run by untrained people. She selected six people from six different parishes and gave them six weeks of training. The challenge began in 1950. They became the first basic school teachers in Jamaica. Their zeal contributed to institutionalizing primary education and the training of teachers.
“Educational institutions, affiliated to the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman, were founded to contribute to the development of under-privileged young people. Some of these are the “Kelly Lawson School” that trains school teachers and youth workers on Sundays; “Operation Friendship” that provides medical assistance in the fields of Maternal and Child Health and also basic education, skill training and income-generating programs for young people”, she remembers with humility and restless hands.
Very soon, Marjorie recognized the importance of education for integral development and for that reason she was a pioneer in giving educational opportunities to the youth, especially to the women. She was Organizing Secretary of the “Girls’ Club”, in Jamaica, later named the “Girls’ Brigade”, a voluntary organization for spiritual development and skill training for young girls. Under her leadership, the programs extended, including Caribbean and international collaboration. Companies in the Bahamas, Haiti, Guyana and Trinidad have been formed, and the movement is growing in these territories.
In 1960, the Queen Mother of England honored Madge for her meritorious services and sterling contributions to the “Girls’ Club” movement. Six years later, she intended to take her work beyond the Caribbean. With a representation of women from Jamaica she traveled to Ireland, England and Scotland, and formed what is now the “Girls’ Brigade”.
She also worked in “Women’s Guild”, a nun’s organization for elderly women, and in the Homeless Children’s House. She influenced the expansion of the movement. She worked unfailingly for the integrity of people in the Caribbean, overcoming the challenges of racial discrimination, which exist even in the Church.
When she was in England, as part of the missionary work, a momentous fact happened in her life: she was ordained as a Minister of Religion. Madge became the first female Minister to be called to the charge of a Church in a European country. A little later, she was designated to work among West Indigenous immigrants. She was also the first woman in the Presbyterian Church of England to be ordained as a deaconess within the congregation in which she would work.
Although for a long time she was the only woman in the clergy, she set the pace in the life of the Church for women to be accepted as ministers of the Sacrament and Word. She became the first Jamaican woman to work full-time in the Presbyterian Church.
In England, she wrote a book called “Living in Britain”, advising immigrants about the challenges and responsibilities of integrating into a modern society. The “Martin Luther King Foundation” took charge of making her words transcend. Thousands of booklets were printed for dissemination. Later on, the book was translated into several languages.
For her merits, she was made chairperson of the Education Committee on racial relations and organized and established multi-racial playgroups, language centers and international nights. These are all mechanisms through which racial harmony can be fostered. Moreover, she was also president of the West Indigenous Association, a representative of the World Council of Churches and member of the United Kingdom Association of Deacons. (Read on 1000peacewomen-Saunders).