‘Turn away from the Mother woman, look to God’

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

JEF­FREY TOWN, St Mary: PAS­TOR AL­LAN Brown is orig­i­nally from Steer Town, St Ann, but has served as min­is­ter at the New Tes­ta­ment Church of God in Jef­frey Town, St Mary, for the past five years.

Brown is on a mis­sion to mod­ernise the church and has ded­i­cated the best part of two decades to his cru­sade. Speak­ing with Fam­ily and Re­li­gion ear­lier this month, the un­con­ven­tional pas­tor ex­plained that from an early age, he was mo­ti­vated by the de­sire for change.

He said: “Grow­ing up in the Church, I recog­nised sev­eral ills and wanted to teach and as­sist peo­ple who were hold­ing on to tra­di­tions and see­ing things one way. As a child, I told my­self: ‘You can make a dif­fer­ence’. I was mo­ti­vated from very early to do that and spent a lot of time talk­ing to peo­ple, look­ing deeper, and try­ing to see how you can un­der­stand things from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.

“The main things I wanted to change were that peo­ple used to as­so­ciate a lot of sick­ness with obeah, and they would have no prob­lem do­ing some­thing, even though it amounted to sin. And yet they would prob­a­bly want to kill some­one for do­ing some­thing that is con­sid­ered way­ward, but is also sin. In my mind, what­ever the sin is, it is sin, and so all sin must be seen as such.

“That is some­thing I try to ad­dress that is re­ally wide­spread in our churches. It’s re­ally kind of hard for peo­ple to let go of these things be­cause the truth is, peo­ple are com­fort­able with some sins. They know it is sin, but be­cause it is not as ‘great’ as some others, they feel they can’t let go as they should.”

Brown is also con­cerned by a prac­tice he said is ram­pant in Jef­frey Town: a ten­dency for Chris­tians to fuse Gospel teach­ings with other spir­i­tual and religious cus­toms.

He ex­plained: “In this parish, there is what is called a ‘Mother Spirit’, where peo­ple are used to a cer­tain ma­tri­archy and have a ‘mother’ in the com­mu­nity read­ing peo­ple’s lives, telling them who is af­fect­ing them, who is obeahing or hold­ing them down, and those types of things.

“So there is al­ways that ‘mother’ hi­er­ar­chy. Ev­ery­body keeps look­ing to the mother for that kind of shar­ing, so what you find is that peo­ple do not want to grow in the Spirit or ad­here to a pas­tor’s lead­er­ship. They would pre­fer for the mother to come, read them up, and tell them things.

“If I have mother com­ing to read up, I will have a lot of peo­ple com­ing to the Church. It’s not that I’m re­ally killing any­body for it. The prob­lem is that peo­ple and the mother feel it must ex­ist, so in­stead of want­ing any other gift of the Spirit, ev­ery­body wants to be­come a mother.”

Brown con­tin­ued: “It’s hard to get peo­ple from out­side to come and as­sist in ad­dress­ing this is­sue be­cause peo­ple are afraid of be­ing here be­cause they don’t want to get in­volved in this kind of what our church calls ‘war­fare’.

“In our church, we be­lieve the mother should be as­sist­ing us in the Lord’s Sup­per and what we call the Wash­ing of the Saint’s Feet, but here in St Mary, we take it to an­other level, where the mother goes be­yond that and tells peo­ple what is hap­pen­ing in their lives.”

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