'I want to build back the Church'
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Lieutenant Leroy Lawrence is a likable young minister and musician who recently took charge of The Salvation Army Church in Port Maria, St Mary. His wife is also a pastor, and together, the newly-weds are hoping to broaden the church's appeal by engaging with more young people and encouraging former members to return.
Speaking earlier this week, Lawrence, who originally hails from Westmoreland, said he was particularly excited about working with children and young adults across the parish.
He told Family and Religion: "I decided to become a pastor because when I was younger, I saw how the pastors in my church operated and the influence they had on my life, and the lives of others within my community and congregation.
"However, being a pastor is not what I wanted to do. I sum up my calling to ministry to be a pastor as a series of disappointments that I faced in my life. But that's when I realised and started listening to how God called me and melted my heart to His service.
"My plan here is to build back the church because from what I've observed and been told, there are a few people persons who had seemingly lost interest in church or had left for a period of time, but now they are coming back, and I thank God for that."
Lawrence, who plays a range of instruments, including the keyboards, drums and trumpet, describes his wife as 'a powerful singer', and believes that music is an integral element of the couple's mission in St Mary.
He said: "Maybe a lot of people don't know, but The Salvation Army is very big on music and known for its brass band. As a musician, I try to infuse music, and other areas of the creative arts into my ministry, and I'm very passionate about youth ministry."
During the interview, Lawrence revealed plans to host a concert in Port Maria in February, and hopes to use the show to help enthuse and inspire the town's young people.
He explained: "I think the biggest problem facing young people today is a lack of identity. A lot of them are not entirely sure where they are, and once they reach that teenage-adolescent stage, they're literally at a crossroads experiencing what I describe as a crisis of faith.
"They become unsure and start saying things like, 'I'm not sure if I want to be a part of this God and church thing.' I remember observing something similar with persons from my age group when I was back home at my church in Westmoreland. When some of them left to go to college, something took over their minds because when they returned, they questioned God and everything about the Bible.
"I think the best way to address these issues is through one-on-one conversations, but many times it's a struggle to be a spiritual influence in the lives of young people because that's not what they're looking for. Oftentimes, they just want someone to confide in and talk with, and to know that person will give them good advice."