Jamaica Observer: MONTEGO BAY – Members of the clergy across western Jamaica say they are hurting from the latest sex scandal to rock the church following the arrest of 39-year-old Jason Rose, pastor of New Life Apostolic Church in Montego Bay, charged for raping a 15-year-old congregant.

Pastor Charles Brevitt of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who made it clear that he is not implying Rose is guilty of the allegations, however argued that even though the church has remained resilient, it has been stigmatised by these egregious sex scandals.

“…I want to say the church is resilient. We have gone through a whole litany of stuff like this, but have survived. Having said that, we must also admit that having survived because of our resilience does not mean that we are without scar. The church survived and has been surviving these things but not without its scars. And because of our moral stance when those within our ranks break the protocol it hurts us and it compromises the integrity of our message,” contended the usually outspoken man of the cloth.”

Bishop Oneil Russell of the Ark of the Covenant Holy Trinity Church in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland said he is distraught over the allegations against Rose.

“I am really distraught, really distraught about it because myself as a bishop who has other pastors around me, who ordain other pastors or help to ordain other pastors… trust me it hurts. When I see these things and the backlash on the church we have to find a way and the way we have to find is to bring young clergy in strict discipline, tell them look, this is what needs to happen in order to maintain the sanity of the church,” Bishop Russell argued.“Over the years pastors molesting young children really brings a dampening effect on the church, it brings a mistrust. People mistrust the church because they class every one of us as being the same thing.”

Brevitt argued that the stigma of sexual predators within the church may trigger parents to suspect interactions between their children and churchmen.

“You start out now being suspects because as a pastor I am close to my young people, I am very close to my young people, but I would have to forgive my young people’s parents if they get suspicious when they see me around with their youngsters. You become suspects, people have to be watching you around their kids, “he quipped.“It is not good. It is not good for the church, it is not good for the ministry, it is not good for the society and I am hoping that with the resilience of the church we will be able to rebound.”

Reverend Glendon Powell, pastor of the Unity Hall Open Bible Church and vice chairman of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) St James, argued that there is need for the fostering of younger generation of the clergy by the more seasoned practitioners.

“A lot of times these younger ministers…I am in St James 40-odd years now and this particular minister I don’t even know him. People have been telling me about the church. We have a St James Ministers’ Fraternal where as ministers we meet every month. Younger ones are groomed, as an association we have a mentorship programme. We always try to make sure that senior men and senior women pass on values because we know that people have weaknesses but these weaknesses can be helped and if a man recognises that there is a particular weakness that he or she has, seek the help,” he told members of the media.

Brevitt said he believes that “the time has come for us to do training for those who represent us in the public space, especially those who work with young people and children”. “We need to expose to them the Child Care and Protection Act. The church needs to be aware of the legal implications of appointing people who they don’t know and people that they have not researched to positions where they can leverage their authority. We can’t rule out the fact that there are paedophiles who get into the classroom as teachers, they can get into the ministry too. Criminals can get into the police force,” Brevitt argued.

On Monday when Rose appeared in the St James Parish Court, he was granted bail in the sum of $300,000 and is booked to reappear in court on July 19.

Allegations against him are that sometime in March he assaulted the teenager while she was at his home, which is located on church premises at 62 Barnett Street in Montego Bay. A report was made to the police, an investigation launched, and a search began to locate Rose.

He eventually reported to the Freeport police on June 7 and was subsequently charged with rape by detectives assigned to the St James Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) following an interview in the presence of his attorney.

On June 11, the teenager’s mother was arrested and charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice after the alleged victim told investigators her mother and the pastor’s wife had been pressuring her to change her story. The teen’s mother and the pastor’s wife, Kimoy Rose, were scheduled to appear in court yesterday to answer charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice as well as other charges under the Child Care and Protection Act.

  • Top Feature Photo: Pastor Charles Brevitt of the Seventh-day Adventist Church – Jamaica Gleaner