Many pastors not following best practices, says Roper
With the Church's ethical standards under the radar post the conviction of the Reverend Merrick 'Al' Miller, the Reverend Garnet Roper, head of the Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS), said that come January, there would be a degree programme in chaplaincy to strengthen pastors in and train them about issues of the law and other ethical matters.
Miller was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court last Thursday to a fine of $1 million or 12 months in prison.
'Dudus' found in pastor's car
The popular pastor was charged after drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke was captured in a vehicle he was driving along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine.
In an interview with The Gleaner on Tuesday, Roper indicated that the JTS has always provided basic teaching on issues of confidentiality and ethics but shared that there was a need for pastors to be guided by boundaries and standards.
The JTS head said that there may be as many 200 contact hours for the course and a practicum of about 300 hours, which will lead to licensing.
"What we recognise is that there are many ministers interfacing with hospitals, schools, and (issues surrounding) law enforcement who are not following best practices. This (course) will be a kind of sharpening of your skills. There are people who were engineers and the spirit lick dem and they are now pastors. They want the full clerical regalia title and they are not properly trained," Roper told The Gleaner.
He added, "Ethics, empowering the individual, ethics of duty, training in confidentiality are a given.
He pointed to discussions that are currently taking place with police commissioner Dr Carl Williams to work out a protocol to guide the clergy in turning in wanted persons. He said other ministers, including the Reverend Peter Garth and Bishop Alvin Bailey, would be hosting a one-day conference in October to examine the protocols and the way forward.
"Some things are not sustainable. Presently, the protocol allows you turn in a firearm without being required to give a statement as to where you got it. We have to look at that because the reason for that is really to protect the confidentiality of the pastor-client relationship," he said.