Sun | Mar 29, 2020

Moravian church left battered and wounded by sex scandal, says acting president

Published:Saturday | January 14, 2017 | 12:23 PM
A church member at the Nazareth Moravian Church wipes her tears during New Year's Sunday service following the arrest of Rupert Clarke - Damion Mitchell photo

The acting president of the Moravian Church in Jamaica, the Reverend Phyllis Smith-Seymour, has issued a statement saying the institution has been left battered and wounded arising from the arrest sex scandal now gripping it.

The statement issued this morning comes two days after the Moravian president Dr Paul Gardner and his deputy Jermaine Gibson resigned following damning allegations against them contained in a seven-page email.

IN PHOTO: Dr Paul Gardner and Jermaine Gibson

The bishops of the church have told the complainant that an independent committee mutually agreed by her will be set up to investigate.

READ: Moravian Church president, vice-president resign amid sex scandal

This morning's statement also follows the December 28 arrest of Rupert Clarke, the 64-year-old pastor of the Nazareth Moravian Church in Manchester.

IN PHOTO: Rupert Clarke being escorted from the St Elizabeth Parish Court

In the statement, Smith-Seymour sought, however, to assure of the "continued commitment" of the Moravian Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands to stand on its mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and to seek the spiritual, educational and social development of all persons, in Christ’s name.


“As has been done since 1754 we will continue to act with sound governance, in a responsible and responsive way. Within this context, the Moravian Church deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to the arrest of a member of its clergy - a matter that is now before the Courts of Jamaica.

We expect that in this, and any other allegations that may arise, that the law must take its course, and we are committed to respecting and accepting the due process of the law, and the course of justice.

At this time, we of the Moravian Church must assert our ongoing and unequivocal support for the rights of all people, and especially so of our children, to live free of abuse, and the threat thereof.

Undeniably, recent events have left us battered and wounded by the allegations that have been made. We know that we cannot be completely objective about ourselves, and so have sought outside help and counsel, remaining open to criticism and corrections, towards meaningful change.

At the same time, we are re-examining our policies and processes, as we probe and deal with all the allegations made, with the purpose of maintaining the high moral standards that we have always espoused and expected of all servants and workers in our Church.

In this, we prayerfully seek God’s guidance and support.”

- Reverend Phyllis Smith-Seymour
President, Moravian Church in Jamaica (Acting)