Paulette Thompson-Forrester spreads the gospel
GALINA, St Mary:
Pastor Paulette Thompson-Forrester was born and bred in Cobbla, in the north of Manchester, but relocated to the parish of St Mary in 1991, where she served at the Grey Street Pentecostal Church in Port Maria before moving four miles west to the Pentecostal Church of God in Galina.
The soft-spoken, devout minister clearly enjoys her pastoral work, but notes a stark difference between the religious organisations that operate in St Mary, compared to those she remembers back in her hometown.
Speaking last week, Thompson-Forrester told Family and Religion: "Here, in St Mary, I have come across a lot of different types of churches and denominations that are not in Manchester. I'm not exactly sure why it is like that, but I think the reason may be because people are led by the Holy Spirit to propagate the gospel."
St Mary maybe one of smallest and poorest parishes in Jamaica, but its capital, Port Maria, has arguably one of the strongest concentrations of church denominations to be found anywhere on the island. More than 25 at the last count.
Most of these new churches have emerged since the turn of the century, and while many of the area's religious leaders cite their proliferation as a major problem, Thompson-Forrester believes the multiplicity provides a greater opportunity to save souls.
She explained: "The good thing about having such a large number of churches is that when a person stands before God, they have no excuse. If they don't like going to church on a Sunday, what about Saturday church? If they don't like the clap-hand church, what about the stamp-foot church?
"There is no excuse. So for me, the number of churches should not be a problem. As long as they are preaching and teaching the word of the Lord so that people living on every street and in every little corner can have access to His word, that's the good thing about it."
SOUL-SAVING IS KEY
Evidently, soul-saving and spreading the gospel are undertakings of the utmost importance to Thompson-Forrester and throughout our conversation, she makes several references both.
Moreover, the same sentiments are palpable in her favourite passage from the Bible, Luke 19:10: 'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.'
She said: "I like that scripture a lot because it reminds us that Jesus Christ wants to save every individual, whether you are black, white, rich, poor, bonded, or free. He has come to give us salvation, so each person has the privilege to receive the word of God."