'PNP' pastor pulled from pulpit - Adventists send Harvey on leave for appearing on political platform
Adventist pastor Dr Michael Harvey says he is now cleaving to prayers, after his church leadership sanctioned him for appearing on a People's National Party (PNP) platform, urging Jamaicans to stick with the governing party in upcoming polls.
Harvey confirmed with The Gleaner yesterday that he has been sent on administrative leave from his position as senior pastor and vice-president of spiritual affairs at the Seventh-day Adventist-run Northern Caribbean University (NCU), effective February 1-15.
"I am trusting the Lord. With the prayers of my friends and few of the brethren, I am holding strong," the 52-year-old, self-declared Comrade told The Gleaner.
He declined to say whether he regretted his statements at Sunday's mass rally in Half-Way Tree, which was used by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to announce the February 25 general election date.
Indications that Harvey could face sanctions from his church leadership came Monday when the church and the NCU issued separate statements distancing themselves from his comments and accusing their senior member of breaching global church policy.
"He violated the principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in which we encourage our members not to take partisan political lines," Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, told The Gleaner.
Harvey had said he was confident he did not bring the church into disrepute.
But Brown insisted that Harvey, a National Housing Trust board member, went overboard.
"He is free to associate. He is free to go there. We have members on either side of the fence and on no side of the fence ... , but when you are a worker - when you are a pastor in the church - you should not use your position as pastor or leader to carry a partisan political position," Brown said.
"If you want to do that, you should relinquish your leadership position in the church," Brown said.
Harvey is not certain whether the administrative leave will be the extent of his punishment.
"I'm expecting to go back to my job, but I don't know what will happen. I am here waiting to see what will happen. When I get anything in writing, ... I can decide what to do."
His actions on the PNP platform and subsequent denouncement by the church and NCU have renewed discussions about the role of pastors in politics.
Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman told The Gleaner that the church was well within its right to reprimand Harvey. He said, too, that Harvey joined the church subject to its rules.