Growing up Apostolic - Sandrea Dennis' story – Part 1
Each church is governed by its own set of doctrines and principles, and it is expected that all members abide by them in order to maintain good standing. But the truth is, the influences of society oftentimes become so overwhelming that the Christian journey is simply a struggle.
Sandrea Dennis has been a baptised member of the Apostolic faith for 19 years and describes the movement as a diverse melting pot having different organisations borne out of the faith.
"There are different organisations that are not governed by the same rules, but we are governed by the same fundamental principles, which include being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ specifically for the remission of sin. We believe in receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and one of the evidences to prove that gift is being able to speak in a heavenly language (speaking in tongues), and that is a different gift from having the gift of tongues."
Because of this diversity, Dennis says the faith is sometimes looked upon with scepticism.
"As an Apostolic church, we have done things which have caused us to 'defame' ourselves. We are governed by ethics, and where it concerns, for example, believers tarrying and praying with someone at the altar, we aren't supposed to shout or push, but sometimes we are a little too exuberant and we get excited. Of course, as was mentioned, there are several organisations under the Apostolic arena and each has its own way. However, the teaching remains. I will not discount the fact that when the Holy Ghost comes upon you, your physical countenance changes; sometimes a lack of knowledge causes us to do the things we do," Dennis said.
Individuals tend to be labelled as a member of a particular denomination or religion by the way they are dressed, and while the Apostolics stand out for their head covering, and females who wear skirts instead of pants, Dennis admits this was a problem for her in her early years.
"I see women who wear hats to work, but it is not supported in scripture. The Bible, however, speaks to the need for a woman to cover her head when praying or prophesying... when it comes on to physical appearance, there is no general apostolic rule, but we in Jamaica have come together and said we need to look a certain way to maintain our traditions, but you have liberal Apostolics nonetheless who have moved away."
She added, "I knew from early that my belief system was very rare; it was difficult. When I started high school, I was dying to find another Apostolic so I wouldn't feel so lonely. On days when they had barbecues and other events that required me to wear jeans, I deliberately missed some of those days because I knew I had to wear a skirt, and at the time, you had to wear your house shirt (sports house), jeans and sneakers. And skirts and sneakers just don't work well."
It took some confident students who were not bothered by how they dressed to give Dennis the courage she needed to wear her skirts with pride and not be tempted to bring pants in her bag and then change before returning home.
But peer pressure was going nowhere fast, causing Dennis to become intrigued by some of the ways of the world.
Did she act on them or did she stand her ground?
Next week, we look at how this young Apostolic Christian endured university life and the dating world.