Clergymen need support in face of temptations - Hall
Reflecting on recent sex scandals that have plunged senior members of the church community into disrepute, Barrington Hall, senior pastor at the Ekklesia Bible Fellowship Church in St Andrew, says that it is imperative that support systems be put in place to help pastors as they are not exempt from struggles and temptations.
Rupert Clarke pleaded guilty to two counts of having sex with a person below the age of 16 in November after he was arrested in January. Then president of the Moravian Church in Jamaica Dr Paul Gardener and his former deputy, Jermaine Gibson, were also arrested by investigators from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse for carnal abuse and indecent assault.
Hall believes that the unfortunate incidents are wake-up calls for the Church to cater to the holistic development of its leaders.
Servants of God
The pastor also said that he expected that as the Church braces for the New Year, ministers would recognise that they are only servants of God.
"When you recognise that you are no more than a servant of God and you become more dependent on Him, then the likelihood of these things is minimised. The Church has to look at support systems for pastors. You know how many pastors' marriages are falling apart and they are merely putting on a show? The wives of some of these pastors will tell you stories that will make your heads turn. So support systems have to be put in place," he said.
"There are hundreds of others (sexual assault incidents) that have not come to light, and might never come to light, but that (arrest) is a good wake-up call for the leadership of the Church. Again, we are guilty of compromising, and we have not maintained the standards. We often train the pastors, we send them out there to do the work, but there's nothing in place to assess them in their own growth and everyday life."
He said, too, that ministers are to be blamed to some extent as some have got caught up in fame and self-glorification.
"Ministers struggle like everybody else. They are humans just like everybody else, and they face temptations just like everybody else. People put leaders on pedestals, and leaders themselves are guilty because nobody wants to become a servant of God anymore. Everybody wants to be apostles, bishops, and every other title, so they have made themselves grand in the eyes of people, and it is this grandeur that is coming back to roost now," he explained.
... Church becoming more vigilant in selecting leaders
The Reverend Lenworth Anglin, pastor at the Rock Hall and the Cavaliers Church of God in Jamaica, says that while it has never been slack in responding to sexual misconduct, the series of incidents has caused the Church to be more vigilant in selecting leaders.
"The Church has not been careless, but even with the most careful planning and screening process, these things can happen. The incidents just caused some things to resurface and encouraged the implementation of many things."