Analysis: A Pastor’s Quandary at the Intersection of Faith and State in Jamaica

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor has not been allowed back into his pulpit or to resume other pastoral duties after he went against denominational policy on the matter of political advocacy. It’s a development that sends a resounding message but gives a complicated lesson. The pastor in this instance provided support to a national political party at a public event.

Until the 1st of February 2016, Dr. Michael H. Harvey held two positions at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Jamaica: Senior Pastor of the NCU Seventh-day Adventist Church and Vice President for Spiritual Affairs.

The event that upended his world (and his family’s) was a mass rally of the People’s National Party (PNP) during which Harvey spoke to a large crowd of PNP supporters. The rally took place at the proverbial “starting gate” of a fiercely-fought general election contest.

A known and admitted PNP supporter, Harvey had been invited to conduct a “devotional exercise” at the meeting. He apparently later went off script: "It is time to rise up and be counted. Step up Jamaicans, rise up Comrades and rally to the cause. Because if it is a mountain we can climb it, if its a race we can win it," he said.

“Our country and the party need a great leader to lead us through tough times,” Harvey urged. “Someone who is socially aware, one who has a genuine love and can empathize with the people... that’s who this country has in the leadership of [Party President and incumbent Prime Minister] Comrade Portia Simpson Miller and her lieutenants.”

The election ended with the opposing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) winning and being commissioned to form a new government.

The morning after Pastor Harvey’s participation in the PNP rally, Jamaica Union Conference President Pastor Everett Brown denounced Harvey and distanced the Church from his comments. Harvey had “violated the principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in which we encourage our members not to take partisan political lines," Brown told the Jamaica Gleaner. "Taking a partisan political line could be very divisive for the Church," Brown continued, adding that he would not, "at this point in time," say whether Harvey would be sanctioned.1 But Harvey was sanctioned, swiftly. His immediate boss, outgoing NCU president Dr. Trevor Gardner, suspended him—initially for two weeks, then one month—from his University positions, appointing the dean of the School of Religion and Theology, Dr. Newton Cleghorne, to serve temporarily as University Church pastor.

In early March, Pastor Harvey communicated to me that he had received written word of what he understood to be a final disposition: he was out as pastor of the NCU church but could continue—tenuously in effect—in his job as a University vice president. He’s not been asked to surrender his ordained ministerial credentials,2 but a palpable standoff persists between Harvey and his University and Church administrators. Also palpable is the silence from brethren and colleagues.

Harvey’s violation derives from an injunction, directed at denominational workers, by Seventh-day Adventist Church co-founder and guiding light Ellen White. The injunction states in part:

Those teachers in the church or in the school who distinguish themselves by their zeal in politics, should be relieved from their work and responsibility without delay; for the Lord will not cooperate with them.


The tithe should not be used to pay any one for speechifying on political questions.... [A]teacher or minister or leader in our ranks who is stirred with a desire to ventilate his opinion on political questions, should be converted by a belief in the truth, or give up his work. His influence must tell as a laborer together with God in winning souls to Christ or his credentials must be taken from him. If he does not change, he will do harm, and only harm.3

The directive, written more than 100 years ago, is straightforward and unambiguous. However, two questions for further reflection, under scrutiny of the Pastor Harvey saga, might justifiably be raised. The first regards what used to be termed the “Advent movement” in Jamaica, and the other pertains to the nature and pursuit of Christian justice.

The first question is this: Viewed within fuller textual elaboration of the Ellen White injunction, are there not evolving contradictions in 21st century, corporate Adventist practice in Jamaica—and elsewhere—when it comes broadly to matters of state?

The second question is: What’s the best way to help resolve Pastor Harvey’s quandary in a manner that makes manifest the values of the Kingdom, as brethren we ought? (Which I don’t think is for people to “just stop writing about it!”)

Let’s first examine some ineluctable, perhaps uncomfortable facts of growth and change in Jamaican Adventism, which have had complex bearing on the matter at hand.

Not My Grandparents’ Church Any More My pioneer western Jamaica Adventist grandparents understood as unequivocal—up through the time of their deaths in the 1950s (their lifetimes overlapping with Sister White’s)—the fundamental dictate of the “Message.” The prophetic command was that they, Seventh-day Adventists, God’s “elect remnant,” should “Come out of her [meaning Babylon/the ‘world’] my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

Sister White made the dictate abundantly plain a few pages subsequent to the quote cited earlier; this time not merely to the denomination’s workers and ministers, but to all believers at every station. Neither was she aiming her counsel narrowly against engagement in electoral or partisan politics—but away from all things relating to the political state.

"There is a large vineyard to be cultivated,” she admonished,

but while Christians are to work among unbelievers, they are not to appear like worldlings. They are not to spend their time talking politics or acting politics.... God's children are to separate themselves from politics, from any alliance with unbelievers. They are not to link their interests with the interests of the world...4

This statement, too, is plain and unequivocal. Ministers and believers of my mother’s generation took this inspired instruction to mean, using as best I can recall my mother’s enduring, stern language: “Have nothing to do with them—not with their kings, queens, knights or princes; their governors or prime ministers; their wars and rumors of wars; their government and their politics; nor with their schools and universities. Nothing . . . !”

Devout church elders around whom, as a young child, I was growing up—in the landmark, militant Mt. Carey Seventh-day Adventist Church—defiantly refused to stand and sing the national anthem, especially the pre-1962/pre-independence one about God saving the Queen.

The only acceptable reason to associate with “them” was to “make them Adventists.”

This austere, isolationist model of Seventh-day Adventism, with its distinctive avoidance of matters relating to the state, essentially prevailed on the island until as recently as perhaps forty years ago. Things changed when we began crowning as “centurions,” and presenting as models of performance, ministers who in evangelistic crusades regularly baptized 100 and more converts, massively swelling the ranks in the pews—and the tithes and offering. An increase in members, and in the “quality” of membership, would further come from interested audiences that regularly followed Seventh-day Adventist programming on profusion of satellite dish (and later cable) networks in the 1980s and thereafter.

Sure, there had always been in the 1940s through the 1960s a few lonely Adventists, facelessly employed in the civil service; and a generally frowned-upon handful always ran for, and succeeded at, political office—mostly under the banner of the Jamaica Labour Party.

But, however we may wish to rationalize or explain it away, the teaching of discrete “separateness,” of non-alignment and non-engagement in matters relating to the functions and functioning of the state, are not at all followed in today’s biggest-denomination-on-the-island (more than 283,000 member-strong) Jamaican Seventh-day Adventism.

Agencies of the organized Church and/or its believer representations have been acutely involved, in the era of the 2000s, at all key levels and stages (lobbying, legislative, executive and administrative) of epoch-shifting discourse, adjustments and transformations. All presumably in the interest of helping to shape a modern, rights-based, democratic society—from changing labour and right-to-work laws to safeguarding liberties, notably freedom of speech and freedom of all religion.

Jamaican Adventists have, in other words, gone way past symbolic voting in elections, because it is our civic duty to do so, to engagement in the Big Picture of governance: the arena of oftentimes struggle over national choices and priority decision making. And politics, as Pastor Harvey has defended, is, at its most elemental, about governance.

We have thus, over the course of just beyond one generation, changed (unalterably?) the profile of Jamaican Seventh-day Adventism: from a hands-off, no frills, expectantly-awaiting-the-Second-Coming “sect” to an established, religio-institutional force that—by virtue of organizational muscle and numerical strength, and, yes, high moral standing—intentionally partners with, and participates in, the governance of the Jamaican state. This represents a dramatically different kind of believer-ship, a different kind of church, from the one Ellen White wrote to more than 100 years ago—which takes us squarely back to Pastor Harvey.

Given the widespread acceptance of engagement in the affairs of the political state (notwithstanding opposition from status quo ante preservationists, who, out of abiding love for my late mother, have my respect), Harvey’s actions ought to be judged only on the basis of degree: that it may have been extreme, over the top. But the contours and context for the behavior had already been set. It was, therefore, neither intrinsically anomalous nor inherently contrary.

Of course we, his congregants, did find it discomfiting—in fact we were aggrieved at—the print media’s incessant caricaturing of him as the “PNP Pastor.” But again we, his NCU church village family, could have straightforwardly worked through this and other incurred harm directly, face-to-face with him. Certainly we should have been given an opportunity to—and indeed we still can; which leads to my second reflective question.

Resolution Consistent with Values of the Kingdom The narrative of Pastor Harvey’s undoing—and the attendant anguish to his family—brings into sharp focus the primary duty of the gospel mission: that is, to make whole again. This should have been relatively easy, considering the lesser magnitude (though I’m not going there) and the sociological counter currents implicit in Harvey’s “sin.”

Be that as it may, sorely missing from this painful saga—at least up to this point—has been transparent conversation (which ought now to include the laity), accompanied by prayerful contemplation on what is the right, just and merciful thing to do—while still holding Pastor Harvey accountable. More centrally: What would Jesus do? Cold-shoulder Harvey while finding a way to “let him down easy”?

As one thoughtful Spectrum reader commented, when the Harvey story first broke:

[T]he man made an error in judgment, just [as] all of us at some point in our lives [do]. The Bible in Proverbs 24:16 states: ‘For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…’ Note, it did not say an ungodly or wicked man, but a ‘just man.’ The Bible also states that ‘…if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.’ (Galatians 6:1)

An academic department at Harvey’s Northern Caribbean University demonstrates for both students and law-enforcement practitioners, in this crime-bedevilled country, the usefulness of restorative justice—a moral-philosophical approach to human relationships that places a premium on putting things right.

Restorative justice shares Divine Kingdom values of penitent acknowledgement, accountability, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and ultimately restoration as the only means for putting things right—not punishment (as we’ve come to know it) or retribution.

We have in Pastor Harvey’s misstep two principal sides needing little prodding to face each other in a series of agonizing, grace-filled restorative circle sessions, together prayerfully engaged in reciprocal search for healing and for putting things right: a shunned and humiliated “offender”, and a harmed and aggrieved church community and family.

The way forward, to end the stand-off and resolve this unholy impasse, is—if “we’re serious about Christianity” (my mother again)—putting into action precisely this kind of transformative healing-restorative process. Our children and grandchildren are watching!


  1. President Samuel Sinyangwe of newly created North Zambia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists recently issued a directive that shares remarkably Brown’s sentiments. “If leaders in the church show open support for a particular political party or candidate they will divide members and fail to carry out their core mission of winning souls for Christ,” Sinyangwe reportedly told a Lusaka gathering of more than 1,300 church board members.
  2. This general set of facts Jamaica Union Conference communications spokesperson Nigel Coke confirmed. He insisted, however, that it was the NCU president whose verification mattered. President Gardner in email correspondence stated that administrative discussions relating to reconfiguring of roles and functions within the University hierarchy—which would involve reassigning Harvey away from pastorship of the NCU church, anyway—were ongoing at the time of Harvey’s blunder; implying, palatably, that the blunder had merely accelerated Harvey’s reassignment—not a removal—to a non-pastoral function.
  3. Ellen White, Gospel Workers (Hagerstown, MD: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1943 [Copyright 1915]), p. 393.
  4. Ibid, p. 396

Bernard Headley is an educator (a Professor Emeritus of sociology and justice studies) and a board officer of the Northern Caribbean University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mandeville, Jamaica. His current book project is “Adventism and the Jamaican Political State.” You can email him at bernardheadley1(at)gmail(dot)com

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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So then what are the implications for someone like Ben Carson who is very much involved in the political process? Or does the quoted Ellen White counsel only apply to denominational employees? I, for one, do not want to see pastors or other church leaders endorsing political candidates or parties. But the problem may be much deeper than simple politics. What leads a church leader to feel the need to make such an endorsement?

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Thanks for a helpful description of the situation in Jamaica viz a viz Adventists and politics! I trust that the present quandary that Dr Michael Harvey is in can be amicably resolved with good will on both sides.

Truly, greater wisdom and understanding than is evident in past attitudes to politics in Jamaica must prevail. A refusal to sing the National Anthem, a disparaging of those Adventists involved in the nation’s civil service etc as happened 40 or 50 years ago needs to give way to new and more mature attitudes. The very numerical growth of Adventists in Jamaica and the attendant gifts of political influence that Adventists now enjoy there must be accepted as a gift from God.

As I have often observed on this site, Jamaica’s Governor General, the present personal representative of HM The Queen Elizabeth II in Jamaica had received God’s call to feed the flock of God. Then he received another call from God. This time he was called to serve the State. He is to be congratulated that he has followed both callings with distinction. He is presently serving the State above the realm of politics.

I believe that Ellen White enunciated some important principles concerning how denominationally employeed persons ought to conduct themselves in relation to the political process. It may well be that Michael Harvey should look again at this counsel. Certainly, Adventist leaders in Jamaica should engage in a process leading to a more mature understanding of the intersection of faith and state. In all likelihood this would caution against pastors of the flock taking sides in partizan politics no matter how deeply personal political convictions are.

Are the lessons of the Bible books of Genesis, Daniel, and Esther those of engaging in political solutions to human problems only in self-serving ways? Surely, Joseph’s family benefitted from his advice to Pharaoh, but so did the entire drought-stricken region. Surely, Jews in Babylon generally benefitted from the guidance of Daniel, especially as their megalomaniacal monarch devolved into mental illness, but so did the empire. Surely, Jews in Persia personally benefitted as Mordechai and Esther used political tactics to work around “the laws of the Medes and Persians,” but their example continues today to urge people of God to study and practice law and become judges. Could the engagement of Seventh-day Adventists in politics sometimes result in heavenly-minded people becoming earthly good? Probably, to avoid confusion of personal passion with God’s commands, pastors and church administrators should avoid politics. But the rest of us?


The counsel from the SOP that apparently sidelined Mr. Harvey I do believe applies to denominational employees. It seems, though, that this “chastening” is a bit over the top, and I hope will resolve itself in love and better understanding. That Mr. Harvey spoke in a public forum as opposed to a church or school setting (which is what the counsel on the SOP, if my memory serves me well here) should be governing the discipline outcome. Mr. Harvey had every right to appear publically in the capacity that he did. While indeed attendance, and participation in a public political rally carries with it its own difficulties with a denominational employee’s being assessed by others, his going off script would certainly heighten the perception of branding him as conducting party politics as an employee of the church. It could indeed produce an unnecessary disruption with members.

It was probably an unwise move to be outspoken in his politics as an employee for at the very least it would present to the public a perception that Mr. Harvey speaks for the church. Herein lies the real difficulty, not so much the disruption that the SOP counsel was addressing. I think that should be explained to Mr. Harvey and his being asked not to, as an employee, place himself in an outspoken fashion on politics in the future, and at least appearing to be jeopardizing the neutral stance the church should have when it comes to politics.

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it is simple, Seventh-Day Adventists hold congressional seats. a SDA pastor is chaplain of the Senate. The issue is should an ordained oastor of the church make public endorsements of candidates for office. they are viewed as speaking for the institutional church, not their single opinion. This is beyond their scope of office. Yet the church is active in lobbying on issues. it is active particularly in health care issues. The church should be above party politics but seldom is. It was the blatant advocacy that was a step too far. TZ

The SDA church has never done well with public Social Issues. For that matter, even Social Issues within the SDA church.
For the most part, changes in Social Issues are for the most part reliant on Political Activism.
We find this in the US. Both groups see the NEEDS, but each party has different views on how to solve the problems.
We have seen this in all countries and especially in central america, south america, and Jamaica is no different.
As has been voiced, SDAs in those areas were like the Jehovah Witness group. Dont salute the flag, dont sing the national anthem. When now SDAs feel that they are a part of the Jamaican population they go against the traditions of the fathers and mothers by becoming active in attempting to make Jamaica a better place to live [being political, and voicing personal beliefs] it is difficult to do so without producing a backlash from friends and co-workers, and in this case loss of a job and VERY Public censure.
I dont know the mind-set of local Jamaicans and their response to Authority Figures such as their Pastor. There are groups of people who are strong on - What ever the Pastor says we have to do, or else! Other groups just see it as the pastor making suggestions.
If the Jamaicans see it as an “Or Else!” mentality, then anyone doing something different than the Pastor would be out of step with the group. And would be difficult after that to be a member of that congregation.
Yes! The SDA church has made it VERY DIFFICULT for members to be involved with Public Social Issues.

Recently we have praised the Loma Linda graduate for being appointed a high ranking position in Florida.
What about the recent article in Spectrum? “WHY Trump is Terrifically Bad for America”?

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Should EGW’s advice be followed or the biblical characters mentioned above who were in unique positions to aid their belief with the national rulers? What did she mean by her statement that men should be in the halls of legislatures (paraphrased)?

How much better for Adventsts to have a respected government leader to speak against religious laws than unknown SdA spokesperson?

Should Adventists never run for political office? Does the church have a stated position on Adventists is politics? Until that is voted upon, how can objection be made to an Adventist who publicly voices an opinion? Are there two separate positions: one for employees and another for members?


The political situation in Jamaica includes a dynamic with which most church members in other places are unfamiliar. The population is more than 10% Seventh-day Adventist (according to Jamaican government statistics). There are so many Adventists that the politicians of opposing political parties can, in the same election, both have very strong ties to the Adventist community.

There are hints from certain individuals that there may be some very personal agendas at play in this act of discipline involving pastors Brown and Harvey. I feel like I can read a hundred articles of personal viewpoint and opinions and be no closer to the truth of this particular situation. For this reason I think it is best for me, here in the United States, to refrain from offering opinions in support of either side of this disciplinary issue and let the immediate communities involved work out their own destinies.


In principle, I agree that official representative of the SDA church should not support political parties, at least as long as their opinion is not officially backed by the local parish. Pastors or even lay representatives would indeed put an additional threat to the churchs unity by bothering members to decide on public politics, which in most cases implies to
support a political party.

On the other hand, an individual is unable to be neutral, no matter what the topic is. The easiest way is not to be informed and thus not be able to develop an own opinion. And, of course, we can not be informed about everything. We are not neutral towards what is going on in our church, our family, the company we work for. Sometimes even the changes of very small every-day things are given more attention than how our country is reigned.

As christians, our duty is to make a difference. We ought to change things. This is often not possible without political engagement. We ought to vote. We ought to stand up for our beliefs. But it requires wisdom to solve political issues, especially as they can not in most cases be solved with the help of the bible. As good christians, we want to love and help everybody. This is impossible in state politics. There is the duty to protect the freedom and well-being of the citizens. Pure philanthropy would destroy every stable social system, eventually.

But should we take this as an excuse to keep out of politcs? Should we leave it to the people who do not confess Christ as Lord or even serve other lords of which we know who stands behind? What a cruel prospect.


As long as the denomination is politic, a la San Antonio, it cannot chastise political activision without exposing its hypocrisy.

Pass the Peace.


The 10 % Seventh-day Adventist (according to Jamaican government statistics) and with not so recent consensus 2,615,582 plus growing populations and do the math Adventists (Family/Families) now living in Jamaica.
Unless you travel in Jamaica you are unfamiliar with life in Jamaica remarks a pastor friend of mine whose return to Texas after spending a year in Jamaica. He quickly realized upon his arrival here in Jamaica that Jamaicans are very easy going. Despite the stresses and hardships being faced by a lot of Jamaicans on a daily basis on Religion and Politics, many will still get warm smiles from many people. The popular saying “No Problem Mon” is not religious or political stunts. It is common saying here. Having said that, Jamaican people do not take kindly to disrespect or condescending remarks. The average Jamaican is not afraid to “step to yuh” (approach or accost in an aggressive fashion) if he or she is being threatened. Jamaicans tend to follow their ‘Jamaican time’. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is not adhered to as strictly as it should be which the laid back has its good drawbacks SDA Jamaicans are serious punctual people on observing Sabbath from Sundown to Sundown.
Jamaica is unlike any other country not only because of its spectacular beauty. What set us Americans apart are the people infectious way of speaking and doing things that is adored and emulated all over the world. Regardless of where you’re from, when you’re here, you instantly get that ‘IRIE’ vibe.
You know “Every Little Ting is Gonna Be Alright”. We are families. Pastors Brown and Harvey could be long distant cousins. “No Problem Mon” God gives us relatives; we can choose our friends.


Just when I thought the Harvey Saga was interred I notice that resurrection has taken place. It’s indeed unfortunate that a brother jumped off into the deep end of the political swimming pool and it is even more unfortunate to see that the lifeguard (the church community) instead of making efforts to send him a lifeline stands on the seashore wishing for the waves to get more boisterous so that he can drown.

For almost four decades I have worked for the Lord and I have never lost faith in his leading and I pray that the Pastor will not …It’s too far to turn back now. I had the great honor of being his professor, I was also privileged to join him in wedlock with Loida and I hope he will not forget that I taught him to know his church, apparently a refreshers course might be necessary for him now. Hope he has not forgotten that he works for God but he works with men.

I hope my puisne little voice will be heard as I call for all concerned to put at rest this matter and move on with the mission. Indisputably the pastor was led away with youthful exuberance but is it not the role of a spiritual community to be a savor of life instead of death and is it not the role of the church to rescue the perishing, care for the dying instead of advocating spiritual murder?

Justice is never always just especially when the sin of the errant one is not as respectable as the sins of the ones standing as chief judges. The churches preaches grace but revel in disgrace. We teach forgiveness but seldom forgive. We preach in poetry and live in prose. It’s ironic that in spiritual matters our church will find it easy to forgive based on pedigree and family tree. Some people have done egregiously and just get away with a slap on the hand while there are others who have fleeced this church with little reprimand. Were it some “other respectable sinners” in the hierarchy they might even be knighted but here is a brother who fumbled and he and his family seems to be going through a crucible while those who are to be at his rescue are plotting for his demise. This certainly is ungodly and I for one would rather see more of our people sin the way he “sinned” than the way I’ve seen some others sin without even a suspension.

He is not the first of our ranks to be on political platforms or even to use media to voice their political biases but the comments then were applauded. I’m asking my church to fix this. Now Dr. Harvey I hope you have learnt valuable lessons for the past weeks. Trust you have learnt that there are those who will sing your hosannas today while they are planning your crucifixion for tomorrow. Hope you have learned that people can use you, abuse you and refuse you. Hope you have learned that you work for God but you work with men, religious men and if they did what they did to Jesus what will they not do to you. Hope hindsight has given you insight as to the territory you are in and that moving forward you must use sleep and mark death and also I hope you sense that the brighter you make your little light shine the more you will find people who will want to damage your filament.

So D. Harvey here is my sincere wish for you that the enemies will not prevail over you. I pray that you will learn valuable lessons from this saga don’t allow pomposity to obscure your vision so that you can’t see the big picture. Wherever you are planted bloom and while others dig your pit keep trusting the Lord because they themselves might be interred in it.

I had the privilege of doing British literature with Miss Chisolm and she use to make passionate plea to us that while we integrate faith and learning we should be guided by Shakespeare plea in the Merchant of Venice Act 4…. I quote it here for the contemplation of all concerned:

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.
May the Lord be merciful to us


The Harvey saga illustrates how incomplete information and an emotional approach to a hard-fact issue can derail what should have been the real conversation. Nevertheless , it is one of the positives of human nature to show compassion to persons in distress and hard times, even if largely occasioned by their own actions. So be it.The Former Church Pastor of NCU Church , Dr Michael Harvey , was invited by a political party(the then ruling People’s National Party, or PNP) to conduct devotions prior to the start of mass meeting. During these devotions led by the NCU Pastor ,some of those commenting on the issue claim that he had a moment of understandable human frailty and, so perhaps driven by interaction with tens of thousands present, Pastor Harvey publicly invited all Jamaicans to vote for the PNP as the only Party which had the ability to lead Jamaica on the “right path” to economic prosperity. He was immediately relieved of his Pastoral duties and sent on Administrative leave.His work as VP Spiritual Affairs is also being called into question, and his continued occupation of that post is no certain thing. Now on the face of it it could be reasonably argued that these reactions are disproportionate to the level of the breaches for which Pastor is accused. However, it must be noted that Jamaicans know that Pastor is the beneficiary of substantial “big” jobs worth millions, from his cousin , the former Prime Minister. This of course paints a completely different picture of the whole affair. Rudely plucked from the realm of lofty political philosophy and expression of free speech et al,this matter has been held all along as simply that ANOTHER political beneficiary has been “singing for his supper” with snout in the feeding trough as the locals describe unwarranted favoritism.

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This is why in the article I appealed for open conversation. If the Church administration believes that in this case there’s been breach as regards more serious concerns relating to corrosive $ conflicts of interests, and can with evidence demonstrate this, then that’s what ought to have led the conversation. Clearly, the heavy and ham-handed censuring of Pastor Harvey (unnecessarily dragging in dear Sister White) for excess, or blundering, in a situation where he was expected to spiritually minister for the public good, is not going down well with a sensible and analytical SDA audience interested in truth and principle.

Having been a member of this church for a very long time and even worked with the institution for a short period I know that the matter of taking disciplinary action by the SDA denomination is a weak point and sticks out like a sore thumb. I am not surprised that Dr. Harvey is going through this experience, fact is, he may well have sat on some church Boards that handed out harsh unfair discipline to members as well. One cannot gloss over Dr. Harvey’s blunder/stumble. As one poster indicates there may well be alot more to the reason for his speech that fateful night than the public knows. Honestly we do not need to know either…because if we know all that will happen is we will drag his name more in the mud without conscience or thought for the effects on his life and his family’s well-being. But his employers, the SDA church in Jamaica and the university needs to act in a way that preserves rather than destroy, to build up rather than tear down. This is exactly however where we fall far short as a christian church. The matter does not only relate to Pastor Harvey and this case. Haven’t we seen countless times persons disciplined for sexual sin gets ostracized by the members and leadership alike, made to feel banished, given the
"how could you do such a thing" attitude…while those same members and leadership glosses over and forget the deadly nature of gossip that kills the heart and soul of the aggrieved person. There are certain “sins” that the church shows no compassion for, there a certain “sins” that the church turns a blind eye to. What of Dr. Harvey? The Pastor needs to be honest to himself, his God and his employers. That honesty must question in his heart the motivation for his platform pronouncements, it must question in his heart its effects on the body of Christ, it must question in his heart his “fit” in the proclamation of the gospel of Christ. As Pastor, he is not fulfilling a job requirement but fulfilling a role that God has called Him to play…He should not compromise on that role…His honesty must question is he compromising that role. What of his employers? The disciplinary action should be consistent with the offence, I expect the denomination as employer would have had some policy guidelines known by their employees that would now serve as a guide in handling this situation, both in terms of the process and the punishment, if any. Additionally, before any action is taken, due process should be followed, due process means giving the aggrieved party the opportunity to defend or give their side of the case, with representation if necessary. (I know in the USA there is the employment practice of “At will” which gives the employer the right to dismiss without cause,) but in Ja. our practice is “employment is a right” and on that basis due process is center. What of the church? There is only one thing the church can do…forgive, heal, bind the broken hearted, restore…and stop the gossiping and dragging of the aggrieved persons name in the mud.

The Adventist church in Jamaica must define it’s ethical and political responses on social tolerance as an overarching concept that relates, generally, to respect for the personal preferences and lifestyle choice of it’s citizens. Disciplining local pastors for “political advocacy” is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taking a principled stance for individual rights and personal freedoms, for the SDA church in Jamaica.

In Jamaica, the issue of homosexuality and the discourse about rights and tolerance gained
resonance partly as a result of agitation within the wider global context in which, for example, the
USA’s President Barack Obama expressed, as part of his re-election campaign platform, support for
gay marriage. Prior to that the British prime minister issued a threat regarding linking rights including
gay rights to the granting of aid to countries such as Jamaica thereby inspiring considerable
controversy within civil society and other spheres.
(Green, R. (2010). Oppression in paradise: Homosexuality and Homophobia in Jamaica. Retrieved from Political Culture of Democracy in Jamaica, 2012)

Homosexual acts, even between consenting adults, remain illegal in Jamaica but there is an often-stated perspective that whereas public display is to be denounced, such behavior pursued outside the public glare in the privacy of homosexuals’ own home or other such quarters is tolerable.

Some would say that he Jamaican SDA church has explicitly and implicitly contributed to the persecution and marginalization of homosexuals by citing the lifestyle as an affront to the teachings of the Bible and as otherwise immoral. L. Lazarus, in writing of constitutional reform and the efforts to exclude gay and related rights, notes that “in nationalist projects, it is not simply the reality that certain (conservative) interpretations of Christian teachings are used loosely but just anyone to further their hetero-patriarchal agendas; rather so-called Christians with various ideological and political viewpoints also actively participate in these processes.”

(Lazarus, L. (2012). This is a Christian nation: Gender and sexuality in processes of constitutional and legal reform in Jamaica. Social and Economic Studies, 61(3), 117-144.
Green, R. (2010). Oppression in paradise: Homosexuality and Homophobia in Jamaica. Retrieved from
Cornwall, A., & Jolly, S. (2009). Sexuality and the development industry. Development, 52(1), 5-12.

I think in all fairness to good journalism, and objectivity, in the absence of supportive facts, this statement looms over the top. Besides, whatever the veracity of these allegations, they fall outside the core central concerns of my article. Perhaps a neutral observer, like a journalism student at Northern Caribbean University, can as an aside do the easy fact-checking and report here on how many government boards Pastor Harvey has sat on, and how much each of those position pays. And also: Is Dr. Harvey the former prime minister’s cousin?

We need to be very careful about this political question. As Jamaicans, we have seen how political partisanship changed the positive trajectory of Jamaica’s future and it will do the very same for the church. I believe the author of this article fail to think carefully about the implications of political partisanship by church workers. A pastor who is rapped up in the political quagmire is unable to be an effective referee and to speak truth to power. When the officers and workers of the Church become politically aligned, we create a situation that brings the same political alignment into the church. I do not need to tell you that a house, church, government, and institution divided against itself will fall. This is not a matter of individual members (non-church workers) getting involved in politics. On the matter of restorative justice, the process is unable to begin if there is a denial of wrong doing.