Devon Dick | Miller's time to show Christian maturity
On July 22, flamboyant and charismatic preacher Al Miller was found guilty of perverting the course of justice by transporting Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, a fugitive facing drugs and firearms charges in the United States of America (US), and ignoring three attempts of the police to stop. Parish judge Simone Wolfe-Reece gave a most damning comment, claiming that the founding pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle was "less than candid with the court" (Gleaner, July 23).
This is the second time in five years that Miller has been called out by a judge for being less than candid. The first time was when Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Williams doubted portions of Miller's account under which he lost his firearm. She found the degree of negligence of such a high degree that it was deserving of criminal sanction. (Gleaner, September 24, 2011).
The implications of these judgments are very serious and far-reaching. If Miller is not truthful, then how did he lose his gun, and what was the motive of Miller in transporting Dudus, and where was he taking him? How did he know where Dudus was, and when did he know? Is he being a fall guy, and why? The use of guns in criminality and murder is a serious problem and the power of dons and garrisons is robbing people of freedom and prosperity. The inferences are frightening.
In addition, one's integrity is very important in the vocation of a pastor. Our word is our bond. Our yea is yea and our nay is nay. That two judges have called into question the truthfulness of statements by Miller is cause for grave concern. Even if he were the owner of Fellowship Tabernacle, he needs to step down and do some soul-searching based on these judgments. It cannot be business as usual.
One can recall Miller being strident in calling on both P.J. Patterson, then prime minister, and Edward Seaga, then opposition leader, to resign. Even in the recent spat between our attorney general and the US Embassy, he was forceful about the US respecting Jamaican law. Clergy persons cannot be seen to be above the law.
There is the issue of what happens when pastors run afoul of the law in a serious way and they own the church. Who administers discipline? It cannot be self-discipline only. If an ordinary member is convicted in court for a serious crime, what happens? What would be the hue and cry of the Church if a politician was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and being negligent in the loss of a firearm? This case has the potential to compromise the Church in being a moral voice if it does not speak clearly and unequivocally about the need for Miller to step aside.
Resigning is not the end of Miller. It could be a beautiful story about our forgiving God when a clergyman can acknowledge sin, repent and be restored. Peter denied Jesus, the Christ, three times and was later restored by Jesus and became a mighty evangelist for God. David was perceived as a man after God's own heart partly because he confessed his sin of adultery and murder and did what God said.
Some years ago, when asked by a Gleaner editor-in-chief who was the most likely pastor to have an impact on Jamaica in the new year, I said Al Miller. Also, some years ago, he preached a powerful and practical message at the Men's Breakfast event at the Boulevard Baptist Church.
Nevertheless, it is now Miller's time to show Christian maturity and do the right thing and step down from his pastoral duties and be rehabilitated.
• Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.