'Turn away from the Mother woman, look to God'
JEFFREY TOWN, St Mary:
Pastor Allan Brown is originally from Steer Town, St Ann, but has served as minister at the New Testament Church of God in Jeffrey Town, St Mary, for the past five years.
Brown is on a mission to modernise the church and has dedicated the best part of two decades to his crusade. Speaking with Family and Religion earlier this month, the unconventional pastor explained that from an early age, he was motivated by the desire for change.
He said: "Growing up in the church, I recognised several ills and wanted to teach and assist people who were holding on to traditions and seeing things one way. As a child, I told myself: 'You can make a difference'. I was motivated from very early to do that and spent a lot of time talking to people, looking deeper, and trying to see how you can understand things from different perspectives.
"The main things I wanted to change were that people used to associate a lot of sickness with obeah, and they would have no problem doing something, even though it amounted to sin. And yet they would probably want to kill someone for doing something that is considered wayward, but is also sin. In my mind, whatever the sin is, it is sin, and so all sin must be seen as such.
"That is something I try to address that is really widespread in our churches. It's really kind of hard for people to let go of these things because the truth is, people are comfortable with some sins. They know it is sin, but because it is not as 'great' as some others, they feel they can't let go as they should."
Brown is also concerned by a practice he said is rampant in Jeffrey Town; a tendency for Christians to fuse Gospel teachings with other spiritual and religious customs.
He explained: "In this parish, there is what is called a 'Mother Spirit' where people are used to a certain matriarchy and have a 'mother' in the community reading people's lives, telling them who is affecting them, who is obeahing or holding them down, and those types of things.
"So there is always that 'mother' hierarchy. Everybody keeps looking to the mother for that kind of sharing, so what you find is that people do not want to grow in the Spirit or adhere to a pastor's leadership, they would prefer for the mother to come, read them up, and tell them things.
"If I have mother coming to read up, I will have a lot of people coming to the Church. It's not that I'm really killing anybody for it. The problem is that people and the mother feel it must exist, so instead of wanting any other gift of the Spirit, everybody wants to become a mother."
Brown continued: "It's hard to get people from outside to come and assist in addressing this issue because people are afraid of being here because they don't want to get involved in this kind of, what our church calls 'warfare'.
"In our church, we believe the mother should be assisting us in the Lord's Supper and what we call the Washing of the Saint's Feet, but here in St Mary, we take it to another level where the mother goes beyond that and tells people what is happening in their lives."