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Hemmings plans to transform Highgate

Published:Saturday | August 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
PHOTO BY ORANTES MOORE Paul Hemmings of the Highgate Gospel Chapel in Highgate, St Mary.


Paul Hemmings of the Highgate Gospel Chapel in Highgate, St Mary, was born and raised in the community he now serves, and although the friendly pastor has worked and lived outside of the parish, he became overwhelmed by a desire to return to his hometown.

Subsequently, after completing his studies and getting married, Hemmings, 35, revisited the parish and began working on regenerating the Harmony Hall community where his church is based.

He told Family and Religion: "I have had opportunities to go outside of St Mary and Jamaica, but I felt like I was called here, and the church here needed me. I am pastoring my home church, so I'm my mother's pastor (smiles). I saw a need and responded by training, and coming back."

Hemmings enjoys pastoring at the church he attended as a boy, and believes it was his destiny to become a religious leader and come back home.


He said: "My favourite scripture is Revelation 4:11: 'Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive power, honour, and dominion; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.' I relate to that passage because I believe my purpose on Earth is to give God glory, and I was created to give Him glory. The last part in particular really resonates with me.

Looking ahead, Hemmings hopes to use his church to transform Highgate and its environs, but believes that rather than providing spiritual support, greater emphasis should be placed on helping the community develop better social and economic infrastructures.

He explained: "Highgate Gospel Chapel started back in the 1930s and is a brethren church, so we emphasis male leadership. It's a church that comes out of a life of simplicity, and one that believes in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The church was started by US missionaries, but since they have gone back, we have seen our own Jamaican leadership coming through the ranks throughout the years. We're based in a relatively poor community, people are always looking for a way out of Highgate and St Mary, and so our best minds tend to leave.

"I think because of that, we've just been targeting people's life spiritually, and so people have privatised their faith. As a result, I don't think we have reached out in a deliberate way to peoples' physical needs.

"James 2:18 says: "You can show me your faith by talking about it, but I'll show you my faith by doing something about it," and I think that's where we need to go.

"There has been a separation of private and public faith, but these things should be coming together. I agree that faith must be private, but it must also become public to make sense."

Hemmings added: "We have to be more deliberate, practical, and honest with people. As a church, one of the visions I have is to become a community church. The philosophy is: if, God forbid, this church were destroyed by a hurricane or earthquake, people should mourn that it's gone because they miss it so much."