Cayman Islanders - Religion and Expressive Culture

Churches play an extremely significant role in Caymanian society. The majority of native Caymanians are regular churchgoers, but, as the government proposal for church-based after-school programs indicates, the churches are far more than religious centers; they are also key community centers. Churches serve as the basis for a variety of voluntary associations and activities. They sponsor programs, including Bible schools, for children, and full-time private schools are usually affiliated with a particular church or religious movement. The United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman has the largest membership, but the Baptist movement dominates in Cayman Brac. There are a number of other Christian denominations, but other religions do not, as yet, have institutional representation, although they do have some adherents.

In the 1980s there was an efflorescence of new organizations concerned with recording, preserving, and promoting Cayman's cultural and historical heritage. One such organization is the Caymanian Cultural Foundation, which mounts plays in—and administers—the Harquail Theatre. The foundation also has a broader mandate: to promote appreciation for and expression of a range of fine arts, with a particular concern for traditional crafts and folk art. The National Trust has gradually honed down an initially broad mandate to preserve natural environments and places of historic significance. The National Museum was initially mandated by legislation in 1979 but only opened to the public in 1990 when the Old Courts Building in George Town was renovated for its use. The National Archive is a repository for historical archives and government records. It has also become the home for the Cayman Islands Memory Bank which, inspired by the Jamaican Memory Bank, aims to harvest an oral history of the Cayman Islands through interviews with elderly Caymanians. The proliferation of these cultural organizations reflects a growing sense of urgency, in certain quarters, that unique elements of Cayman's environment, history, and culture must be salvaged before they are entirely eradicated by economic development.

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