'Pastors marketing the gospel'
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
At least two Biblical texts, Lamentations 3:40 and 2 Corinthians 13:5, encourage the reader to examine, question, and get to know themselves, and according to St Mary-based preacher and author the Reverend Leo Hall, introspection is an essential element of any individual's personal development.
Hall's latest book, Devotional Declarations: 31 Prophetic Biblical Pronouncements, was released in May, and explores how people can use different scriptures and prayers to enhance their daily lives.
Speaking earlier this week, he told Family and Religion: "In terms of our own faith, sometimes we allow other people to speak things over us, and when we accept what they say, it then becomes our reality. My new book is really about using scriptures and prayers to declare who we are in Christ with the aim of seeking wholeness over who we are and changing anything that is not typical."
Hall, who ministers at the Bethel United Church in Highgate, encourages the people around him to improve and develop themselves, but is well aware that this kind of commitment from a pastor to his congregation and community is becoming increasingly rare.
He said: "One of the biggest problems I see is that rather than having a Biblical opinion of the church, some pastors seem to be more interested in the commercialisation of the Gospel and trying to make the church marketable. People are trying to get money, and in their push for cash, they forget the church should bear certain ideals.
"Without doubt, there are people who have gone into ministry for economic reasons. They see that they can make money, and that's the wrong reason because ministry should really be a calling, not a profession, and money-making should not be the priority.
"I think we just have to start being real in terms of how we license people who go into ministry. There has to be some stringent means of testing a person's resolve to ensure they are not just seeking to exploit an opportunity that may be presented by the Church. The fact is that pastors do have some sense of power, and some people seek to exploit that."
The self-confessed technophile, who, in 2012, launched an agency to provide local youths with employment and electronics training, insists that 'St Marians' fascination with obeah is another major issue plaguing the parish.
He explained: "Witchcraft is heavily practised by quite a few persons and has become a very big problem. I do not know why it is so prevalent as I was not born and grown in St Mary. I came and saw these practices that are relatively common to some persons.
"I have heard somebody say recently that it's getting 'outdated', but the culture still remains because you speak to people and they don't see anything wrong with it and will tell you that's just who they are. I'm not sure if it's part of our African retention, but culturally, this part of the world seems more superstitious than others."
Hall's book Devotional Declarations, is available on Amazon and at selected local bookstores.