Devon Dick | New Testament Church touched again by the Lord
A few weeks ago, at the 92nd Annual National Convention of the New Testament Church of God (NTCOG) in Jamaica, held under the theme 'Touch me again, Lord',
W.A. Blair was on fire as he was installed for another four-year term as administrative bishop. The NTCOG is known for its anointed singing, passionate preaching and indigenous leadership. What is perhaps not so well known is its holistic orientation and ministry.
Blair did not mince words in warning rapists not to touch the girls of the denomination and the dire consequences on the criminals of such a bastardly act. Perhaps it is too early to get a feedback on this matter.
Blair was also very sharp in his remarks to members of clergy who would not pull their weight or were divisive. He told them either work together or separate for a peaceful life. They must chose united ministry or disqualify themselves from pastoral ministry. Pastoral ministry will be measured against performance targets within the context of a job description. He encouraged those with old grouses to burn and bury the hatchet. However, if they chose otherwise, they would still be friends but not co- workers in the NTCOG vineyard.
However, this was not mainly about chiding recalcitrant members of the clergy but also about clergy welfare. He included issues to deal with members of the clergy owning their own homes, having an adequate pension on retirement and getting improved remuneration. This seems an unusual charge from a pulpit by a bishop at a public convention.
Blair, in declaring that crime is up and fear is up, stated that the NTCOG will work with the government of the day, once the government followed righteousness. Otherwise, it will be an attack. The NTCOG is on a mission to take Jamaica for God and she fears no foe or man. The NTCOG is one of the largest denominations in Jamaica and she has the wherewithal to accomplish this mission.
That there were messages in the convention booklet from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, as well as from Leader of the Opposition Peter Phillips, show that there is a relationship between Church and State, and that the NTCOG is very influential. In addition, a private-sector leader, Earl Jarrett of Jamaica National, spoke at the convention. This is the first time I have seen a PSOJ person address a religious convention about business. The NTCOG has an integrated concept of ministry.
The NTCOG has conceptualised a model to achieve its objectives through strategic planning and training and development. There will be a focus on evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry, fellowship, church history and doctrine and Bible study. There will be a congregational conference next month with an emphasis on lay leadership development.
Though the leadership of the NTCOG is local the global leadership seems dominated by Caucasians.
This is not dissimilar to most denominations. Therefore, it was not surprising that the main speaker for the Sunday was Bishop Mark Williams, former general overseer of the Church of God International. Hasten the day when Caribbean people will be international leaders.
One sensed that the theme 'Touch me again, Lord' was not a mere wish but an experience that will have a ripple effect throughout Jamaica.
- 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.