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Conference leaders urge Adventists, Evangelical Alliance to dialogue

Published:Thursday | October 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
From left: Phillip Wong, director of development, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Rev Dr Majorie Lewis, United Church of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands; Phillippa Drew, Kaleidoscope Trust, United Kingdom; Rev Father Sean Major-Campbell; and Rev Micheal Weeder, Anglican Church of South Africa, discuss their conference, scheduled to start today.

Rector of Christ Church Father Sean Major-Campbell says that better understanding is needed by fellow church leaders to spur conversation around the repealing of the buggery law, while issuing a call to the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance (JAE) and the Seventh-Day Adventists in Jamaica to join them in dialogue.

Major-Campbell leads a list of local and international clergymen in a two-day conference under the theme 'Intimate Conviction', an international conference examining the Church and its stance against the repeal of the buggery law.

"I am saying to all the groups out there, all the churches and pastors out there, we need you. Let us see how we can come together in spite of our differences and respectfully listen to each other," Major-Campbell said.

"The challenge is to see how, even with our differences, people can come together to respectfully share in conversation," he added.

Both the JEA and the Seventh-Day Adventists have distanced themselves from the conference, citing a difference in scriptural belief, with the JEA saying that it "upholds the law against buggery as set out in the Offences Against the Person Act and is strongly and unequivocally opposed to its alteration or repeal".

The Seventh-Day Adventists in Jamaica in a press release, said that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and woman" as designed by God and that the Church is "opposed to homosexual practices and relationships".

Major-Campbell said, however, that he hoped the two organisations would find it necessary at some point to meet for dialogue, using scripture for the basis of his request.

"The Lord's command to love one another means much more than a group of persons of like mind locking themselves in a room joining hands and singing," Major-Campbell said.

Listening with compassion to all, including gays

The Reverend Marjorie Lewis of the United Church of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands says that the pastoral response and the capacity of ministers to be able to have conversation with people in safe spaces has implications.

"This means looking at the way in which ministers are trained to be able to listen with compassion to everybody who comes to them, and that includes gay people and their families," she said.

Intimate Conviction has been organised by local and international groups, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal network, Anglicans for Decriminalisation, and the St Matthias Church and will feature speakers from the Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and United Churches.

The conference begins today at the University of The West Indies Regional Headquarters at 8 a.m.