Denominations must unite - Pastor Ashmead
Minister Derrick Ashmead is originally from St Ann, but has lived in St Mary for the best part of 50 years and is currently based at the Juno Pen Foursquare Church in Enfield.
Ashmead dreams of one day uniting the multitude of church factions in Jamaica under a single umbrella group, and firmly believes that more religious organisations should promote female pastors and women into positions of authority.
Speaking earlier this week at the Fourscore Church in Annotto Bay, the friendly, equal-opportunity reverend told Family & Religion: "I became a minister because I felt the call of God. After I was converted at the Jack's River Foursquare Church in 1974, the (female) pastor there gave me the opportunity to share, exhort, serve, and lead the service because of my ability, both academic and spiritual.
RESTARTED A CHURCH
"I served as youth leader in that church; attended the local extension Bible School; and was then called by the overseer, the Reverend Neville Davis, to restart a church in Enfield that had been down for some time after the pastor left. So, in November 1986 I went and restarted the church.
"When it comes to females having more leadership positions, I think there is a place for both men and women in the church. There is a difference in the leadership styles, but sometimes you have different ways of achieving the same objective.
"I think more churches should encourage females to step up into leadership roles because, for example, the Juno Pen Church has a membership of about 50 adults, but there are only four males; females make up the majority.
"Our founder is actually a female and we have quite a few female minsters and pastors in the Foursquare Church and if we weren't using them, their churches would probably be without pastors, so I think our females provide good leadership."
Ashmead, whose favourite biblical scripture is Philippians 4:13, feels optimistic about the future, but fears that a lack of Christian unity is one of the biggest religious problems facing the people of St Mary.
He said: "Churches like the Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the 'Jesus Only' Pentecostal churches don't unite with other churches they are segregated and only fellowship with themselves. An Adventist wouldn't allow me to preach in their pulpit and how a Jehovah's Witness worships is somewhat different.
"Sometimes all the different denominations might be a bit confusing to those out there who want to be converted because they ask 'How do I know which is right?' I would really like to see the Church of God, Pentecostal, Jehovah's Witness, and Adventists come together as one.
"It would be quite amazing to see them come together and for us to go out to the square and have one big, open-air meeting. I think that would be a really big move that would touch a lot of persons and bring more people into the church."