Debate over worship day is redundant -- pastor
GALINA, St Mary:
While Seventh-day Baptists (SDB) can neither claim to be the largest nor the most popular religious group in Jamaica, according to minister Selvin Campbell, the church enjoys much credence and kudos as the world's first Christian organisation to observe the ritual of Sabbath-keeping.
Campbell, who pastors two SDB churches in St Mary and another in St Ann, believes, however, that the debate about the correct worship day is unnecessarily fractious and ultimately redundant.
Speaking from his home in Galina, St Mary, he told Family and Religion: "The SDB church is a worldwide organisation with missions on every continent. Our documented history goes back to 1650 at the Mill Yard Church in Tottenham, London, England.
"That church still exists and two more offspring missions started there recently, and all of them are pastored by Jamaicans (smiles). We arrived in Clarendon, Jamaica, in 1923 and, apart from the Jews, are the oldest organised Sabbath-keeping denomination anywhere in the world.
KEEPING THE SABBATH
"The Sabbath issue is problematic because people want to know how they should worship, on which day, and if the Sabbath will be abolished. I think the Sabbath should be kept, but I'm not the person who is going to say that 'if you worship on the first day of the week, you're going to be lost.
"I don't go down that road because I'm of the strictest view that people who are searching for God, irrespective of whatever organisation they are in, will actually find Him in due course."
Campbell, who was born and raised in St Mary and holds a degree in theology, takes a moderate stance on most religious issues and encourages people from other faiths to worship at his churches.
He explained: "We welcome every individual and do not discriminate against anyone, whether you're a Muslim, Christian, Rasta or whatever. There are 13 points in our Statement of Beliefs and if people join us from other organisations, they have to accept our principles, but we don't push people to accept what we believe because they are free to make their own choices.
"Sometimes, we have differences of opinion, but we do not allow them to separate us from each other. We treat people as people and discuss issues in an amicable way. Even if people don't believe what we do, we still sit with them because we are all humans and brothers."
Campbell has led the SDB churches in St Ann's Bay and Galina for 17 and 15 years, respectively, but found a renewed sense of purpose after launching a new ministry in St Mary five months ago.
He said: "We started in Jacks River in August because there are around 11 churches in
that area, but no Sabbath-keeping church in the entire community. As a Sabbath-keeping body, we believe the truth of the Sabbath should be told to people and so we started a mission there and the results have been very good.
"The socio-economic condition is a little different from the other church in St Mary. Galina is a community with a lot of returning residents and professionals, whereas Jacks River doesn't really have that.
"However, it is one of the friendliest communities I've ever worked in, and I've worked on missions all over the country. Jacks River has really given me a new light and vision as to how people respond to the message."