Church Rebuked for Cover-Up by Elder

By Petrina Francis
Jamaica Gleaner
July 19, 2006

Karen Morgan, an elder at Macedonia Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kingston, has urged the Church not to cover up violations when they occur because such action will inevitably drive people away from the institution.

"We must not powder-puff things, we push people farther from the Church when we do that," Mrs. Morgan said yesterday while speaking during the Kiwanis Club of Kingston's weekly luncheon at the Hilton Kingston hotel in New Kingston.

She continued: "Let us not try to protect the Church, God is in charge of his Church."

The elder told the gathering that, while the Church should feel hurt and sympathy for those persons who besmirch the institution's reputation, members should not feel defeated.

According to Mrs. Morgan, who is also a senior lecturer at Mico College, the Church has come under heavy criticism and much of civil society do not want to hear its message.

"The whole world is watching us ... We have a moral obligation to the Church we serve and the community," she said.

Mrs. Morgan was speaking against the background of the alleged assault of a schoolgirl in the presence of a church deacon and the failure of the church to report the matter to the police.

She said the Church should never compromise with sin.

"The Church will rise again but the Church will falter if we do not continue to be guardians of truth," she added.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Collin Cowan, general secretary of the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), says the leadership of churches should ensure that there are appropriate measures in place to prevent the abuse of children.

According to a release from the UCJCI, clergy should be knowledgeable of relevant legislation, especially the Child Care and Protection Act 2004.

It further noted that the leadership should have access to ongoing training in pastoral care.

"We urge Jamaican men and women to help create a climate of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and abuse in churches, homes, at the workplace, in the community, on the buses and in all public spaces," said Rev. Cowan.


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