Pastor Everett Brown, SDA president, says organisation the has not abandoned its obligation to the nation
This is the conclusion of a two-part interview with head of the Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA), Pastor Everett Brown. With some 24 years as a member of the Central Jamaica executive committee of the SDA, Pastor Brown, who is a justice of the peace, has also chaired several boards and committees along his path to the top. He brings a wealth of experience to the presidency and is equipped with a bachelor's degree in theology and religion, as well as an MBA and a master's degree in religion from Andrews University. He is also a proud husband and father.
The Gleaner's Public Affairs Editor, Barbara Ellington, spoke with Pastor Brown on some topical issues, including whether the Church was silent on criminal activity, moral issues and indiscipline in the society.
Many people say the Church is silent on major issues such as crime, child abuse, sexual immorality, or recent police brutality. Would you agree?
No. The overarching responsibility of the Church is to be the spiritual and moral compass of society. From the pulpit on Sabbath or Sundays, or whenever there is a need for the Church to publicly state its position, the Church has never reneged on its duty to the society. When the Church speaks out on something that the public does not agree with, we are labelled as political. I am not afraid of that, as long as I am speaking from an informed position. Being labelled must not stop us from speaking out. There will always be persons who don't agree with our position, but we must not only speak out on isolated issues, we always speak out against injustice.
To say the Church is silent is not fair. Traditionally, we have spoken out on all the issues of concern. I don't agree.
As we look to another 50 years as an independent nation, what do you see as the most pressing needs in Jamaica from any perspective?
As a church, we need to get back to a place where we empower and nurture the family; we need to get into the communities and use our resources and focus on the family and create an environment in which people can grow up embracing values that will make them better human beings. The most economically and socially progressive countries are those that invest in education of the people. I am here contributing to the development of my country because my parents and the Church invested in me. So I see education as among our most urgent needs right now.
We are not going to achieve the goals stated in the Vision 20/30 document if we do not invest in the education of our people. We will see a reduction in crime if we do that. As we move forward, we must stop giving lip service and invest in both the formal and informal education of the nation. The Church can also assist with other pressing concerns such as conflict resolution, teaching parenting skills and partner with our governments to move our country forward.
What are the overall objectives of your tenure at the helm of the Jamaica Union?
Under my stewardship, the Jamaica Union wants to grow membership by 10 per cent. I want to increase our capacity to train the youth and the achieve growth at the Northern Caribbean University, to improve our health-care facilities to cater to a wider clientele and expand the intensive-care capability of the Andrews Memorial Hospital. I also want to impact the communities we serve in a more positive way.
Is there anything that concerns or seriously grieves you in the work that you have been called to do?
We are all over Jamaica so I would love to see the SDA more involved in the communities we serve. I think we can do much more. We are not leveraging what we have as we ought to; we are not involved in evangelism as we should be. That is my concern. We are involved in evangelism but the social life of the people we serve, I would love to see us more visible there. I am also concerned about the limited opportunities for young people to serve in nation-building. To train them in values and attitudes and these will benefit the Church and society.
How do you relax and unwind?
I play table tennis, football and basketball with my sons, I walk a lot and I go to the beach. I am also an avid reader.
Part one of this interview appeared in Monday's Gleaner.