Viewpoint: Our Son Michael Harvey Must Be Restored

My brother and church pastor, Dr. Michael Harvey, has never been shy about telling his Northern Caribbean University Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation that he came up—from the cane fields of Westmoreland, in deep rural Jamaica—the hard way. He learned to read, he frequently tells us—he was all of nineteen years old!—when he was saved from waywardness and eternal damnation, and baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Harsh fact is, the only credible institution in Jamaica that would accept him into normal high school, as he entered his twenties, was the Adventist-owned then West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University), with its generations-long tradition of making “somebodies” out of “nobodies,” to coin a phrase from the 1970s’ lexicon of civil rights leader the Rev Jesse Jackson. West Indies College admission officers asked of Harvey—not for his money, prep school grades or his pedigree, none of which he had—only that “You prove yourself, son.”

And prove himself, by hard manual labour (in one of the school’s at that time many industries) and the oft-frustrating challenges of classroom and book learning, this hardscrabble, black son of the tough Jamaican soil did!

That he’d one day go on to earn a doctorate at, and lead the flock of, the institution that had inspired and nurtured him, whose teachers years ago told him that he was indeed somebody, is a modern-day, up-from-the dust, Booker T. Washington narrative; an epic Jamaican story of overcoming—through struggle, triumph and redemption—the plantation.

I know from having listened attentively to his musings that Pastor Harvey borrowed a page or two from another against-all-odds, determined, up-from-rural-poverty Jamaican stalwart and political icon: People’s National Party (PNP) president and incumbent prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.

Enthusiastic acclamation for their shared grittiness and refusal to be anything but extraordinary propelled the Adventist pastor into un-restrained exuberance—highlighted by his “Rise up and be counted, comrades!” exhortation—on the high-octane PNP campaign stage the Sunday night (Church meeting time) of January 31. The event, packed with charged partisan speeches, saw a fired-up Simpson-Miller declare February 25th the date for the country’s forthcoming general election, around which political campaign meetings are shaping up to be decidedly volatile.

The national Seventh-day Adventist Church’s organizational and administrative heads have in the aftermath of Harvey’s interposition wisely insisted that he take some time out for deep thought, reflection and prayer—perhaps to check himself to see whether being an Adventist minister of the gospel, and not a stump politician, is a calling he still senses.

His actions, however, (unlike the shady—if not criminally fraudulent—business dealings, plotted and executed by his Church’s elite United States counterparts)1 have not in any way harmed, damaged or even embarrassed the denomination, only Harvey himself.

In the spirit of the Master Healer, after his period of atonement and lonely sojourn in the prophetic wilderness, I’d like to see our village son forgiven, healed and returned to the pulpit—if truly in his heart and soul that’s what he desires. Our son Michael must be restored.

_____________________

  1. See Douglas Hackleman, Who Watches? Who Cares? Misadventures in Stewardship, Morrison, Colorado: Members for Church Accountability, Inc., 2008

Bernard Headley is an educator (a retired University of the West Indies professor) and a board officer of the Northern Caribbean University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mandeville, Jamaica

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7312
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The church did the right thing by placing him on administrative leave. Ministers of the gospel have no business endorsing political candidates or political parties. We have clear counsel on this from the pen of inspiration.

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This reports completely omitted the church’s action and leaves some of us wondering what was done? It assumed that is known. Good reporting includes ALL the information pertinent to the story of his “restoration”, implying he needs to be back in the church’s good graces.

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administrative leave for exuberance over a politician with a shared life story in this circumstance is harsh and excessive…considering michael’s remarkable rise from what sounds like virtual slavery, which included improving himself in a way that all concerned saw with their own eyes over time, individuals with no comparable experience would have shown more class to concede that they had no standing to judge him, and let the man make his own mistakes…michael should definitely be restored…

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The tone of this article implies that the church administration may have no intention of restoring Dr. Harvey. Elder Headley, is this the implication that you intended to make - or am I reading something into it?

I have found no indication, in all of the articles that I have read reporting on this incident, that church and university administrators will not restore Dr. Harvey after they receive an appropriate response from him as they have requested - most likely an apology for his actions, an assurance that he is dedicated to self-sacrificial christian service (rather than political stumping), and confirmation of his increased understanding of what is and is not an appropriate use of the pulpit.

I don’t know whether or not Dr. Harvey has yet offered any of these items, but it appears to me as though the ball is in Dr. Harvey’s court and that it is premature and perhaps ungracious for anyone to demand restoration for him at this point in time - especially since this demand assumes that it is not already the intention of the church to do so.

To place Michael Harvey on administrative leave from February 1-15 is a grossly insufficient response to his misconduct. At a minimum, he should apologize. His apology should include not only a sincere expression of contrition but a detailed explanation why his offensive conduct is harmful to Jamaica and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His apology should be a public apology that is widely reported in national and Church newspapers. And obviously his apology should be offered well before the February 25 election. If he is unable to fully understand the magnitude of his offense and the harm he has caused, then he should be fired. There is a strong argument to be made that he should be fired even if does fully repent, given the egregious and flagrant nature of his misconduct.

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I must be missing something here, for in reading the story as published in “The Gleaner”, I’m not seeing anything in this pastor’s actions that could remotely be regarded as “misconduct”.

If Ellen White was prepared to advocate civil disobedience in the context of the abolitionist struggle of the 1860s, then surely an Adventist pastor should be able to promote and endorse a political candidate he believes will further the best interests of his country.

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First, it should be noted that this is not a report, it is an opinion piece, designated such by the word “viewpoint” in the title. Second, the in-text hyperlink in the third-to-last paragraph provides the information you’re looking for. In other words, it’s not entirely opaque.

See the Jamaica Gleaner’s “PNP Pastor Pulled from Pulpit - Adventists Send Harvey on Leave for Appearing on Political Platform.”

Phillip, your response to me appears to be overly harsh. A time of reflection is never a bad thing, and some people after reflecting have concluded that they took the correct action, while others conclude that a wrong action was taken. The other issue is that if an apology is to be made, how widely does it need to be made. Is it made just to those who have been influenced or offended by his statements, or does it go much broader than that. It made be that the only ones listening were Adventists - why then would it need to be in national media. And since when have national media decided to publish something just because an individual or organisation thinks their point of view needs to be heard through their medium. You can’t make an organisation publish your comments, unless you have control over that organisation.

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Always a good thing, sis, to give even a passing glance to footnoted references and further reading suggestions embedded in an article before rush to chastise.

I’m puzzled that you saw the article as making a “demand”?!!, when I put as graciously as anyone could in writing,“I’d like to see…” But thanks and bless you.

Politics is becoming A Round Head movement. The evangelicals are looking for a Cromwell. Heads will roll. Dire consequences are in play. To change analogies,let the poor man stand in the ecclesiastical snow. Tom Z

Thanks Dr.Headley,But as a Jamaican and a long Standing Seventh Day Adventist looking at the situation ,if i did’nt have certain experience i would have have stood with the decision,but knowing what i do know i can only say it is sheer hypocrisy and the only reason they are disciplining this son of the soil is because he has gone the other side.I think they feel more of political betrayal as opposed to defending spiritual principledness.The year 2014 i attended a graduation ceremony at NCU and was most disappointed and annoyed.Because while sitting waiting for the ceremony to start the orchestra struck up a well known calypso YELLOW BIRD then they went rock and roll TWISTING THE NIGHT AWAY and when the speaker was announced to my dismay the man is a well known JLP politician by the name TONY HART
Now it seem we don’t go to the rallys but we bring the politicians to come and address our graduates so that their minds can be influenced by the same people that we claim to be distancing ourselves from. Not only that there is a well known Seventh Day Adventist ,in Jamaica,Who has accepted the position of custos and we all know that, that position is one that comes out of political affiliation,But to date not a whimper out of these selfrighteous people.Pastor Harvey should not have to go through the current experience as" if it is good for one it is good for all" what i mean is this ,the entire management team of NCU owes me an apology under the aforementioned circumstances.We must remember" if you live in a glass house don’t throw stones" We cannot want to eat our cake and have it at the same time.I dare say all pastor Harvey has done is to do publicly what ,as an organization/institution,we are doing on the quiet. In that, we ,as an organization,are giving quiet support to one party but because the pastor come out and showed where he stands we are ready to crucify him.interestingly we can tolerate gay/transgender elder and not a whimper,but we will crucify a pastor for his stance.But not only that,many are the times i have seen politicians,here in the USA brought in ,during the divine hour,and allowed to promote their campaign.Bretheren it is things like these that fills me with the fury of the holy ghost and make me like nehemiah want to pull some peoples hair or beard whichever they have. One last thing Will they discipline the pastor of the Ironshore SDA Church who graced the rally platform of the current opposition party The JLP just this past sunday night? (feb.7.2016) Thanks.

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Agreed that footnotes should be noted, but they should be used only to provide sources for the essay and should not also be required reading to understand the reason for the article. Footnotes only support what should have already been written.

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You are so very right on matter of hypocrisy and double standards, Brother Moulton. But the church has never had to deal with anything quite as brazen like this before, where an ordained, currently and actively employed pastor goes boisterously stumping, in live and living color, at a mass campaign rally, for one of our two warring political tribes/parties.

As I have stated elsewhere, the man made an error in judgment, just all of us at some point in our lives. The Bible in Proverbs 24:16 states: “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…” Proverbs 24:16. Note, it did not say an ungodly or wicked man, but a “just man”. The Bible also state 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. The Church should not act because it wants to let John Public knows that it took action against him, but take this man’s good track record up to that point into consideration, forgive and restore him. He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

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Brother Headley, I wish to address you and this subject more fully; as it and the twists and turns of Adventism in Jamaica is far more important than many would know in this forum. Many here only see Jamaica as a viable option for vacation amongst the numerous other beautiful Caribbean islands. But, Jamaica is a bastion of Seventh-day Adventism; boosting the highest ratio of Adventist members to population of any sizable populated territory in the world. I am not personally from Jamaica, but my wife is, and I have preached there numerous times, throughout the island. When there, I drive myself around the entire island; so that you understand my familiarity. As you know, Adventist Churches saturate the island and enjoy such prominence that Adventist events, incidents, and “takes on issues” are regularly featured in the two main papers: The Jamaican Gleaner & The Jamaica Observer.

Let me be clear, it is because of the prominence of Adventism in this place, coupled with a keen interest on researching and presenting the prophecies, that I have focused on Jamaica as a “natural case study” as to just such a place where the Great Controversy theme would, most poignantly, be played out. I do not write you as a novice on the subject of what is happening to Adventism in Jamaica; because I research down to the toenail. I have monitored developments within Adventism in Jamaica since the appointment of Patrick Allen (the then West Indies Union President) in January of 2009. Since then, I have preserved every noteworthy article and video clip that would demonstrate a shift in “how Adventists are seen or see themselves” in Jamaica. I also have “boots on the ground” in Jamaica that have kept me informed as to how things are playing “close up”; endeavoring to gain further insight you cannot get from afar. The shift of Adventist identity in Jamaica is a subject that should be explored by Seventh-day Adventists worldwide.

While I believe that Brother Moulton is correct that the principle leaders in Jamaica have taken a hypocritical path to invoke Adventist policy in this case; the truth is he should not be involved in politics; period. The pen of inspiration speaks to that in Gospel Workers pg. 391, 392.

But I reiterate my support for Brother Mouton’s mention of hypocrisy. While the brethren are correct in their assessment of violated Adventist policy, they have looked the other way when the inherent violations were “high level”; and I am referring to the much debated (publicly amongst Adventists) appointment of the Governor General. The calling of the press conference at the Terra Nova Hotel, just days after the appointment, by leaders across the entire island, to quell the notion (stridently argued in the newspapers between Adventists) that a Seventh-day Adventist should not take the position of Governor General; calling any such notions as “fanatical”.

However, leaders “swallowed their tongues” when pressed to answer as to whether the months-delayed signing of the Casino Gambling bill was a “moment of truth”; naturally arising from the conflict between the Governor General’s faith and his Constitutional duties. I’ll just say this, and would welcome further dialogue: Whether its been the (Sabbath held) Governor’s Cup at Caymanas Race Track, the Knighting of Patrick Allen, the Sabbath celebration of the world record breaking accomplishments of the Jamaican track team at the Portmore SDA Church, the conspicuous absence of the GG at the National Stadium for Jamaica’s Independence Celebration (which fell on Sabbath a few years ago); there have been many violations of “who we are and what we believe” that has been “ignored” by those who are now reprimanding Dr. Michael Harvey. It seems that only the “lower level” offenses have been dealt with; such as Michael Harvey and Lorenzo King (with the Prime Minister Golding protest).

I could not refrain from this discussion…

I Welcome Dialogue…

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I having a vague suspicion, that this EGW comment is hardly relevant to this time and age, or is it?
"“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.

Every 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."
EGW in Gospel Workers, p. 393.

You certainly are one, Elder Turner, who, from such a distance, is impressively familiar, in fact thoroughly knowledgeable, with the vexing complexities, corrupting complicities and mountains of contradictions that define the “political state” of, biggest denomination on the island, Adventism in Jamaica. It’s a slippery slope, no a minefield! onto which our brother pastor has with naive fanfare and hubris fatally stepped. A few of us saw it months in the making. And indeed. we should have more persistently warned him.

I do very much appreciate this your sophisticated, informed contribution. Perhaps we can communicate some more off line. Our “mission” (should you decide to accept it) has to be to isolate, What is the essential principle here? Then stand on it. That principle, I’m afraid, is more objectively nuanced than on ONLY what EGW might have written or said century or more ago.

Churches are becoming worried that they will taxed if they endorse candidates or ideas (or, more importantly, candidates or ideas that are unpopular with those in the position to tax them.)

In 2015, there was a woman in Texas who wanted to rough up and church whose pastor had encouraged something she discouraged, right?