PARL Director Gives Warning of Impending Storm at Religious Liberty Convention
Written by: Phillip E. L. Castell, Director, Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Thursday, January 25, 2018
Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference received well needed information about their religious rights and freedoms as citizens of the country at a Religious Liberty Convention held at the Hagley Park SDA Church on January 20, 2018. The Convention was held under the theme “Liberty of Conscience Threatened” and saw religious liberty leaders from over forty churches across the Conference gather to explore some of the religious liberty issues facing the church.
The main messages for the day were conveyed through drama presentations, music, PowerPoint presentations, a panel discussion and the spoken word.
Guest speaker for the divine service and Director of the PARL Department in Inter-America Division, Pastor James Daniel, captioned his sermon “A Storm is Gathering – Prepare your Minds “ and gave a solemn warning to the church about future events which are about to take place upon the earth.
His message was on point and covered the important Biblical, historical and prophetic issues outlined in chapter 35 of the book “The Great Controversy” with theme “Liberty of Conscience Threated” which was the inspiration for the theme for the day.
From his opening sentence, Pastor Daniel engaged the attention of the congregation by using the familiar imagery of an impending storm soon to engulf the whole world.
“Anyone who is paying attention to what is happening in the political and religious world would know that a storm is gathering,” said Daniel, “and when it breaks, it will sweep across the globe, forcing upon people what they should believe and attempting to dictate how they should think.”
“It’s a storm of religious political persecution that will threaten even our freedom of conscience,” Daniel warned. “It will be more intense than it
was five hundred years ago,” he added.
The seasoned preacher of righteousness opened the scriptures and took his listeners back in time to the reformation when men like Martin Luther revolted against the errors of the Church of Rome and refused to accept its false doctrines. He lamented the fact that today the protestant churches are no longer protesting against the Church of Rome but have instead united with the ecclesiastical power which once punished dissenters from her dogmas with excommunication and death.
“Today, protestant leaders are no longer protesting against the papal power that once ruled the world with a rod of iron but are inclined to submit to it,” said Daniel during his sermon. “The coming together of the papal, protestant and political powers constitute a gathering storm.”
The Inter-American Division Vice President exhorted the church to “hold on to the truths contained in the Bible” and not to allow anyone to take their crown
“There may be a gathering storm but settle God’s truth in your mind,” said the preacher of righteousness with conviction.
The convention spanned both morning and afternoon and was well supported by the Administrators and directors of the Conference. EJC Conference president Pastor Eric Nathan brought greetings to the church on behalf of the Conference and offered special welcome to Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, who also brought greetings on behalf of the Justice Ministry.
Pastor Robert Wright, Director of the E.G. White Research Center at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) also brought greetings on behalf of the University.
Wright said religious liberty is a matter of the heart for him and that we have a responsibility to educate the church on matters of religious liberty because there are some statements in the writings of the prophetess to the Church, E. G. White which speak to events that will take place in these last days that will affect our religious liberty.
Elder Nigel Coke, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director, JAMU, in his address to the church said the Religious Liberty Department is the last day department but it is not being given much attention in some churches.
“What we find in a lot of churches is that the department is ignored in some respects,” said Coke, who alluded to the fact that in a lot of cases churches do not look at the challenges being faced by their members and the department remains dormant.
The JAMU PARL Director however predicted that in the not too distant future, the PARL Department will rise to prominence as religious intolerance and persecutions rise.
“There will come a day when we will have to major in the minor,” Coke said, suggesting that the religious liberty department which is now viewed by many as unimportant, will become one that will be of major concern as religious liberty rights become trampled upon prior to the return of the Lord.
PARL Director in EJC, Elder Phillip Castell, in his presentation outlined the role of the PARL department in the SDA Church and said the PARL Department’s primary focus is to ensure that the God-given universal human right of religious freedom becomes a universal reality.
Echoing the words written by Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted Wilson in a book written specifically for PARL Leaders in the church, the EJC PARL director said the need for special religious liberty advocates called “Church Ambassadors” at each level of our church organization has become a priority. He encouraged the Religious Liberty Leaders to embrace the challenge to represent the church in the community as Christ’s ambassadors and to do the best they can at all times.
Bro. Wendel Wilkins, from the Kencot SDA Church made a presentation to the church on the topic “Religious Liberty in the Workplace.” Wilkins, who is a lawyer, shared his knowledge of the Jamaican constitution with the church and highlighted that if either Section 17 of the Constitution which provides for religious liberty or Section 13 (3)(i) which guarantees the right to freedom from discrimination on the ground of religion is breached, the aggrieved worker has a legal remedy against the offending employer.
The church had opportunity to ask questions, get feedback and be informed on matters impacting religious liberty in the church from a panel discussion which was moderated by Elder Martin Henry, from the Guava Gap SDA Church. The panelists which included, Pastor James Daniel, Elder Nigel Coke, Sis. Carla-Ann Roper, Elder Patrick Barrett and Bro. Wendel Wilkins played an important role in answering the many and varied questions posed by church members and who assisted in the successful staging of the Religious Liberty Convention.
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