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Pastor says church must improve impact on society 2016

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas

Following recent criticisms that the church, as an institution, has failed to significantly impact Jamaica's youth, at least one western Jamaica-based pastor has acknowledged that churchgoers must make a greater social impact for the year 2016.

Pastor of the Lucea United Church in Hanover, Reverend Glenroy Clarke, told Western Focus that for this to happen, Christians need to become more active in their communities, instead of simply confining themselves within their churches.

"If the church is going to make a difference in 2016, there much be a focus on family life, living by the values of the fundamental Christian teaching 'to be neighbourly'," said Clarke. "Christians need to come out of the four walls of their church buildings and get involved."

"We must become a force to be reckoned with as social reformers, taking an active stance in the community, and letting the light of Christ permeate society," Clarke added. "It is time to have more committed, born-again Christians in politics, on national boards, and in the business sector. We, as the church, must let our light shine, and not be ashamed of the Gospel."

Pastor of the Mount Salem Open Bible Church in Montego Bay, Victor Wheatley, said that his congregation is already deeply involved with the local community.

"We have a very strong youth group, with maybe half the church under age 35. It is very strong at our church. We have a football event, where, on Sunday evenings we go and play football with the guys (in the community), to socialise and invite them to church," Pastor Wheatley outlined.

"We also have a feeding program, where every two months we go and feed the people in the community, and we have an outreach program where we go in the open air and meet people in the community," Wheatley added. "The men also have meetings with the boys, which started this year, and we socialise with them on Friday evening."

The pastors' statements came following recent assertions by former president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Clayton Hall, that the church in Jamaica has failed in its role as a socialisation agent for the nation's youth.

Hall had said the church in Jamaica is not able to reach the population, and has become a "hospice for persons who are close to, or in retirement" and that children were no longer being exposed to church and religious teachings. He said churches have been on the decline, and on the recline, were retreating into themselves and had become "a place for retirees".