Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
SHOUTS OF hallelujah and a spirited prayer echoed through the walls of the Covenant Moravian Church in Kingston.
Members lifted their hands in worship and reverence as the pastor prayed for them.
The Reverend Jermaine Gibson, pastor of the church, told The Gleaner that the church is moving towards a more charismatic style of worship. He said the church is cognisant that the traditional style has led to a decline in membership, especially among young people.
"Some of our traditional churches, even here at Covenant, we are shifting into that direction more, in terms of more lively singing, choruses and music, and so on. And the very fact that we are moving in that direction is a response to the fact that people are saying we need more out of worship," Gibson said.
He said the strategy to adjust worshipping style has been paying dividends.
"We are seeing some tremendous increase in persons, not necessarily in the church but at our youth activities, especially our youth fellowship, that is growing and we are happy for that," Gibson said.
He added: "We can now tap into that as to how we are going to get them to go to church because we have many of them who come to the youth services, but they don't come to church."
Young people feel restricted
Erwin Warner, a young member of the church and also a student-pastor, admitted that young people tend to feel restricted at the traditional churches as the worship style does not appeal to them.
"With our type of worship, it is hard to strike a balance. They (young people) don't really get a chance to express who they are and as a young person, you feel as if you are boxed in and you can't be yourself," Warner said.
"As young people, we tend to ask ourselves a lot of questions, and anywhere you can find the answer you will go there. That is why we find that we are losing our young people because, in terms of helping them define who they are, we have failed," he said.
At another Moravian Church, Redeemer in Kingston, the Reverend Valrie Royes, pastor of the church, said she doesn't find a major difference in the style of worship at her church as opposed to the Pentecostal style of worship.
"When I go to the Pentecostal Church, I'm finding that we are worshipping like them. Traditionally, you would not have had our type of churches doing the dancing and the singing, but especially in this congregation, we broke that tradition a long time ago," she said.
Christopher Duleupha, a member of the church, said from his interaction with young people, he has been told that the service is boring.
"We have been trying to see how best we can incorporate more activities in our worship, because a lot of people might gravitate towards the other churches because they want the excitement, the jump up and so on and so forth, and then some are here because their parents come here or because they grew up in the church," Duleupha said.
A member of the Lyndhurst Methodist Church shared similar sentiments, saying that the young people are not committed to the Christian life.
"There is a decline in our membership because we have over 300 members enrolled on the church roll and if you come here on a Sunday, you wouldn't even know that we have so many members," she said.
The 2011 census report, published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, indicates that there was a 12.5 per cent decline in membership of the Moravian Church over the past 10 years.
Of the approximately two million churchgoers in Jamaica, the census says membership in the Moravian Church stands at 18,351 members in 2011, down from 20,975 in 2001.
There has been a 12.5 per cent decline in membership of the Moravian Church over the past 10 years.