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Jamaica: “Church not a crime fighter Mourners at ex-councillor’s funeral stunned by preacher’s declaration”

A packed Webster Memorial Baptist Church in Granville, St James, appeared stunned as an outspoken preacher railed against the conventional wisdom, declaring that “the church’s place is not in crime fighting”.

Rev Johnathan Hemmings, pastor of the century-old Ocho Rios Baptist Church, St Ann, also used the occasion to lash politicians who could not be humble enough to admit when they were wrong.

“…I take issue with the people who are asking what is the church doing about crime-fighting, as if they expect that the church should be involved in crime-fighting,” Rev Hemmings said, as the church suddenly went quiet, with some members of the congregation looking quizzically at each other.

“The church’s place is not in crime-fighting. We are not trained for it,” continued Hemmings, a former pastor of the Granville Church where he was delivering the sermon at the funeral service for ex-councillor Clifford “Dockey” Cunningham last Saturday.

Cunningham, who died on March 2, aged 67, lived all his life in Granville, which is historically regarded as a cultural and political centre of St James. He served as a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor between 1981 and 1986, earning the love and respect of the community for his lifetime of service and commitment.

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