Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Balancing church and work

Published:Thursday | December 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore
Dwight Powell

As the commanding officer for St Mary's police force and first elder of the Galina Seventh-day Adventist Church, Deputy Superintendent Dwight Powell is a man with many responsibilities. However, while many people would struggle to balance the disparate obligations that come with these portfolios, Powell is confident in his ability to successfully juggle all priorities.

Speaking earlier this week from his office in Port Maria, he told Family and Religion: "They are two very big commitments, but one has to understand the priority. Policing is an occupation and Christianity is a lifestyle. I make the transition very easily because both can coexist.

"When it comes to the issue of working on the Sabbath, I ask myself the question: 'If Jesus was here, what would He have done?' When I look at His ministry, it was very public and most of what He did was done on the Sabbath Day. He declared that it is good to do good on the Sabbath, as long as you're not doing a routine service that could've been done another day.

"I'm in essential services, which means that if my neighbour is in need any day of the week, especially the day that I worship, I'm not to turn my back on them, so it all depends on the viewpoint. I seek first not to follow the church code, but to follow the code of Jesus Christ."




Potentially, Powell's stance could put him at odds with other Sabbath-keepers who disagree with his interpretation of Jesus' teachings. Nevertheless, the affable policeman insists that his position is supported by Biblical scripture.

He explained: "The principle laid down as it relates to work and Sabbath-keeping in [Exodus 20:9], says: 'Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the lord thy God.' But how did Jesus magnify this commandment?

"One example can be found in the latter verses of Mark 2, when Jesus is walking through a cornfield with His disciples on a Sabbath Day. The disciples broke corn, which was unlawful on the Sabbath, but when Jesus was chastised by the Pharisees, He said: 'Did you not read what David did when he went into the temple and ate the shewbread, which was unlawful?'

"When you look at the context of the conversation, Jesus is saying that whatever you're doing on the Sabbath that is lawful, justifiable, and in keeping with humanity, it is necessary. I know we must eat on the Sabbath, but the general principle is that you make the preparation from before. But if you're not in a position to do that, are you going to starve yourself to death?"

Powell firmly believes that communities in volatile areas will become safer once church groups begin forming stronger bonds with law-enforcement agencies. He encouraged the parish's religious leaders to be proactive in tackling social issues in 2017.

He said: "Our society seems to have no fear for God and no respect for man. I want to use the Church to look at how we can impact communities because, as we know, there are social issues such as bad parenting that are affecting the parish."