Christopher Serju, Arts & Education Writer
Allegations of corruption, abuse of power and misuse of funds could easily lead one to believe the charges were being levelled at our politicians. However, it is a fact that there is another set of leaders on whom Drs Meric Walker and Trevor O'Reggio turn the glare of the spotlight, as indicated by the title of their book Church Politics: Spiritual lessons for 21st Century church leaders.
The book was recently launched to a sparse audience at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Andrews Memorial, but at the end, everyone wanted a copy, needing to read for themselves details of the misdeeds of local spiritual leaders, hinted at by guest speaker Ian Boyne.
He did an impressive job of whetting the appetite - offering just enough insight to stun the mind and tease the senses of what, by all indications, is a must-read. Boyne made it clear that, while the revelations could be disconcerting, the style and conviction of the authors leave little doubt as to the authenticity of the claims.
They declare and document, without calling names, how many Christians in positions of power from across different denominations have failed to live up to the example set by Jesus Christ. In the process, they have empowered themselves (financially) while failing to attend to the needs of their constituents.
However, Dr Walker, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, told Arts & Education the aim is to bring healing and not division to the cause to which most of his adult life has been dedicated.
He explained: "These are observations of what I see happening in church organisations and institutions. As I measure them with the Lord Jesus' life on earth, I see that most of them (leaders) are lacking, and as a person who is ordained to preach the gospel, I believe that, as we reach out to the world, we have to look within the Church to see that our lives are modelled on what we preach. I am not satisfied," he declared emphatically.
As president of the ministerial fraternity of East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, he is, in effect, chief pastor of a pastoral club comprised of some 45 members. With some 17 years' experience as a marriage and grief counsellor and having been born into a Baptist home, Walker definitely has the inside track on church runnings and, while the book is a call to arms, it reflects also his own personal pain and disappointment at the failings within an institution so dear to his heart.
"The book points out the good that I have observed, and there is a lot of that, but also a preponderance of the bad in terms of impropriety. People outside would not be privy to what I have observed, but when you are on the inside, you have a broader vision, especially in regards to my exposure to people from all parts of the world," he shared.
The personal turmoil caused by what, evidently, was a painstaking task, comes across as he explains the rationale for the work.
"It is not for us so much to criticise in a destructive way. We begin with the first person singular to see if what I am seeing and criticising, how it applies to me."
Still he remains unapologetic: "It reflects really my sincere conviction and belief in relation to how I see ministry from the inside and how it should impact the outside. I have commended good church leaders who have been role models. It is an honour to be a converted church, but the whole matter of bad examples is too much."