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'Church leaders need to be less divisive'

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Desmond Sinclair, minister for Fire Baptised Holiness Church of God of the Americas.


For the past decade, Desmond Sinclair has been a minister for the Fire Baptised Holiness Church of God of the Americas, first serving in his hometown of Harmony Hall in Highgate, St Mary, before moving two years ago to Moore Town in Portland.

Sinclair appreciates his role as a religious leader, but admits to being initially reluctant and sceptical about becoming a pastor.

He told Family and Religion earlier this week: "The truth is, outside of being a Christian, I always had a fear for pastoral work (laughs).

"When you look at pastors over the years, and realise the level of commitment it takes, you ask yourself: 'Do I have the time?' But as you mature, you recognise that you were called by God for a particular purpose, and the mandate of God has to be taken care of.

"I recognised that I could really make a difference in people's lives at the community level, and ultimately to the island of Jamaica, and so the opportunity to take up ministry became a privilege."

As a lifelong St Mary resident and community development officer for the local branch of the Social Development Commission, Sinclair loves his parish, but similarly enjoys the contrasts he finds serving in Portland.

The minister observed: "Wherever you go, there are cultural differences. For example, I do ministry in a Maroon Village in Portland where it is said that Nanny had her roots.

"There is a strong Maroon presence within that community, which is way up in the Rio Grande Valley, so those people spend a lot of time away from the town centre of Port Antonia. These things bring about cultural differences, which means there has to be a difference in how you minister to individual communities."

Sinclair believes that although church attendance in St Mary is relatively high, the parish would benefit greatly if its churchgoers were less divisive and more benevolent.

He explained: "I think what happens is that we tend to place our emphasis on religion, but not so much on saving grace. As a result of that, you'll find it becomes problematic when you try integrating ministers to talk about how we are going to move the body of Christ forward.

"This poses a problem because we need to now look away from religion and towards how we are going to empower people and help them reach their ultimate. Since the church preaches [about] heaven, and heaven is where we want to go, we have to help people to get there.

"And so, this concept of division whereby I can't come to your church because you were baptised in this name or worship on a particular day is something that has separated not just the church, but friends and families. It makes you ask if it's in anyway different from politics."