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Why the Moravian pastor on sex charge was transferred multiple times

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Moravian pastor Rupert Clarke being escorted from the St Elizabeth Parish Court on Wednesday.

Damion Mitchell, Integration Editor

The leadership of the Moravian Church in Jamaica is dismissing assertions that on multiple occasions it ordered the transfer of the pastor at the centre of a sex scandal because of complaints of inappropriate conduct.

According to the church president, Rev Dr Paul Gardner, the transfer of pastors is a routine activity in the denomination. 

LISTEN ON SOUNDCLOUD: Sex crime allegations and Moravian pastors' transfer

"We have a system of transfers," Gardner told The Gleaner late this afternoon.

Rupert Clarke, the 64-year-old pastor of the Nazareth Moravian Church in Manchester now charged with having sex with a minor was sent to that congregation just over two years ago.

That was his fourth transfer since he became a Moravian minister in 1980.

IN PHOTO: Dr Paul Gardner

Gardner said in the past 20 years, he too faced numerous transfers having been moved five times.

He said there are also pastors who have resigned after being informed that they would be sent to other congregations.


President of the Moravian Church, Dr Paul Gardner

Meanwhile, Gardner has also dismissed assertions that he had previously received complaints about Clarke's conduct.

READ: The Church and moral leadership - Part 2

He was reacting to a demand by Dr Canute Thompson, a former Moravian minister, to publicly declare whether the leadership has ever received reports of sexual misconduct among its members and what actions it has taken.


Former Moravian Minister Dr. Canute Thompson

In the meantime, Gardner is maintaining that the church leadership deals firmly with matters of misconduct.

He also said in another few months the Moravian Synod, which is the highest decision-making body of the denomination could be asked to approve changes to the code of ethics and grievance procedure.
Image result for rupert clarke jamaica gleaner

Roll call - Rupert Clarke
Carisbrook Moravian Church, St Elizabeth
Bethabara Moravian Church, Manchester
Holy Cross Moravian Church, St Elizabeth
Bethlehem Moravian Church, St Elizabeth
Nazareth Moravian Church, Manchester