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Understanding Yahweh (Part V)

Yahweh in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | December 22, 2019 | 12:23 AMPaul H. Williams - Gleaner Writer
Omar Thompson
Omar Thompson

Yahweh is a Hebrew religion that originated in the Middle East. Though it has the Bible as its main source of reference, it does not recognise Jesus Christ of Nazareth as its messiah.

Believers regard Yeshua Ha Mashiack as the The Anointed One. This is one of the fundamental differences between the two religions which have their origin in the same region, with Christianity having a much greater number of converts the world over.

And, like Christianity, Yahweh has various congregations/branches that espouse varying and opposing perspectives and beliefs. There are major divides between some of these congregations, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with one another. This division and mistrust came to the fore after the recent stand-off between the Qahal Yahweh Congregation in Paradise, St James, and law authorities.

After the news broke former members and relatives of present members had made claims of the “cult”/”sect” compound being a place of tyranny, child sex/marriages, forced marriages, alienation from non-believers, physical and psychological abuse, human trafficking, abductions, wife swapping, etc.

However, the leader of the congregation, Omar Thompson, is understandably not pleased with the negative publicity, and has condemned the authorities, the children agencies, the family court, critics, the media and other denominations. He accused them of being “sold out to the Devil”.

Yet, Yahweh congregations in Jamaica have distanced themselves from Qahal Yahweh, one group saying in the media it went as far as placing an advertisement in a community newspaper last year to say that it has no affiliation with Qahal Yahweh.

Pastor Chaisson Beckford has been reported in The Gleaner of Sunday, November 10 to be a member of Yahweh for 23 years, and was a member of Qahal Yahweh up to 2015, when Neville Woolery, now deceased, was in charge. He now heads the Ha Ivriy Min Yahweh in western Jamaica, which is not affiliated with Qahal.

Beckford is quoted as saying, “Qahal Yahweh is not affiliated with any other branch of Yahweh in the country. In fact, they stand by themselves, and believe that all others must come through Qahal Yahweh to be saved.”

Affiliations in Yahweh

This issue of affiliations in Yahweh in Jamaica is a matter that Family and Religion has been trying to clarify, and has found that there is no one overarching body with which congregations are affiliated. There seems to be different congregations that are not affiliates, but have their own branches. A case in point is the First Congregation of Yahweh International, located at 81 West Road, Arnett Gardens in west Kingston.

A member with whom Family and Religion spoke said it is difficult to come up with a number of Yahweh congregations in Jamaica. His congregation has two branches in St James, none of which is connected to Qahal Yahweh, and another in Trelawny. There is also a splinter group situated in Richmond Park, St Andrew.

Its website says, among other things, that First Congregation of Yahweh International has been in Jamaica for almost 50 years, stemming from the Congregation of Yahweh in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. It is affiliated with a group in Florida called Ambassadors of Yahweh, and is “affiliated with several other groups internationally”.

It also claims to be part of the International Congress of Yahweh, “which is an association of national congregations who are committed to the gospel of the kingdom and to working together in proclaiming it worldwide”.