Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Go form your own church

Published:Wednesday | December 10, 2014 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Some members of the Christ Church in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, have vowed not to yield any more of their physical or spiritual space to members of the lesbian, gay, and transgender community, many of whom were in attendance at Sunday's morning service, which included a testimonial from a transgender individual, as well as the washing of the feet of two lesbians by resident Anglican priest Father Sean Major-Campbell.

"This thing haffi stop now!" one member told The Gleaner yesterday. "It must stop because no man of God would preach a sermon like that. No man of God should preach about homosexuality in that manner. If you going preach about it in that manner, you have to guh let adultery go; you have to guh let go fornication (meaning they are all right). If the homosexuality is all right, adultery and fornication must be okay, too."

He continued: "Mi naw run from mi church, you know, 'cause what you going do? Lef it give the gay dem fi tek it over? Dem must go form dem own church, man! Whole heap a tent and schoolroom and theatre deh all over. Mek them go form them own church!" he declared.

The resolute Anglican said he had the support of many others who remain steeped in the traditional values of the old-time religion, which allows for tolerance of sinners but not wholesale acceptance of their sins.

Major-Campbell, in a hard-hitting sermon, highlighted some age-old issues, which he found helpful in grounding his reflection in current realities, targeting Christians and policymakers for their allegiance to rituals and systems, while failing to serve the needy.

His sermon was based on Isaiah 64:6: "We have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth."

Major-Campbell spoke to some of those issues.

"Do we realise that the first quarter of this century in Jamaica is being characterised by quarrels concerning human sexuality, women's reproductive rights, and religious confusion? Do we realise that many well-intentioned members of the Church do not sufficiently understand the issues, and often, it is easier to just jump on a bandwagon in an effort to appease the appetite to feel as if one is doing God's will, and mission, and work?"

He continued: "And so we now have a very divided and fractured Jamaica. Out of many, we have one confusion! We are in the liturgical season of Advent. It is a time when the lessons often invite us to rid ourselves of anything that leads to unrighteousness and injustice. It is our prayer that even as we celebrate human-rights on this second Sunday in Advent, churches throughout Jamaica will become more sensitised to the awareness of human-rights and justice concerns."

The message resonated with Sonia King, also a long-time church member and steadfast Anglican, who admits that she was caught off guard by Sunday's turn of events.

"I was taken by surprise that those people were there ... . We didn't know what to expect, but it didn't offend me at all," she shared with The Gleaner.

King explained that after reading about the events on the day's programme, which included the washing of the feet of a sex worker who did not show, she accepted it all as part of Major-Campbell's ongoing efforts to offer comfort and solace to people underserved and neglected by the society.

Though unprecedented, she described this latest episode as consistent with things the priest had done in the past in keeping with his expressions of public demonstrations of love and Christian service.

And for anyone who missed the main points of his sermon, the priest had this to say:

"The essence of the message is that God cares about those who suffer injustice and persecution. The message at Advent also notes that worship without justice is dead! In the Church, we have tended to do a good job talking about justice and praying about it, but the time has come for us to understand that 'we have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds have become like a filthy cloth'.

"Many of the influential and so-called learned persons in the halls of power in this country are a brood of vipers, religious though they may be. Jamaica is not short of persons with the ability to heal and inspire, but like the Pharisees and Sadduccees, many, like vipers, wait coiled in silence. They wait to strike but never to be an agent of healing and wisdom."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com