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Young people shun 'outdated' church teachings

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 3:00 AMOrantes Moore
Sheridon Roper
An artist's illustration of the Council of Nicaea.
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It is no secret that attracting young and committed church members has become a problem for religious leaders operating throughout the parish of St Mary.

However, according to former Church of God member Sheridon Roper, who stopped attending services three years ago, the main reason young adults are less enthusiastic about church than their predecessors is simply that many of the customs governing the institution have become irrelevant and outdated.

Speaking from her home in Highgate, Roper, 21, told Family and Religion: "In my experience, I've found that most people grow up in one church but leave for another because they want greater involvement and are not getting the opportunities they are looking for.

"When I was younger, I went to church every Sunday, but by the time I reached 16, I started attending less and less until I eventually just stopped going altogether.

"I stopped because the rules, regulations, and structure of the Church were established by and for people living hundreds of years ago. We're in the 21st century now, and practically everything has changed.

 

OLD-FASHIONED RULES

Roper added: "I think society has outgrown a lot of these old-fashioned rules. For example, in many churches, especially traditional ones, women are told not to wear men's garments, such as pants. But nowadays, a lot of jobs require women to wear pants to protect themselves.

"I would really like to see pastors from all denominations come together, collaborate, and realise that if they want to attract the younger generation, they will have to adjust some of their laws and get more in touch with modern society," she said.

While Roper's suggestion may seem radical, the truth is, representatives from differing denominations have always got together to decide how rules and laws should be amended and implemented.

In the year 325 AD, religious leaders and ecclesiastical experts from around the world gathered in Bithynia (part of modern-day Turkey) to attend the first ever conference on Christian doctrine and practice.

 

COUNCIL OF NICAEA

Around 300 bishops convened at the meeting known as the Council of Nicaea to debate and agree on issues that would later become universally accepted. These included determining the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and confirming that all denominations would celebrate Easter at the same time.

Roper believes religious leaders in Jamaica should host a similar conference focusing on ways to increase equality and modernise the Church's approach to young, unmarried mothers. She explained: "When a young, unmarried woman, who is living with her parents becomes pregnant, sometimes the Church shuns the girl and her family. They back-bench and restrict the family members from participating in certain duties and activities, usually for the duration of the pregnancy. However, if a young man gets a girl pregnant, nothing happens. Everything remains the same and there are no restrictions, and that's just not fair."

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com