PRESIDENT of the Saint Lucia Mission of Seventh Day Adventists, Roger Stephen has spoken out on the disruption of service at the Forestierre, SDA Church that took place 11 days ago. Saying that the Missionregrets what happened on the morning of April 24, Stephen said that the Church sympathizes with JoachimHenry, who disrupted the service by calling on Guy Joseph to desist from maligning himself and his family. Henry and Joseph are political rivals vying for the same parliamentary seat, Castries South East, in the upcoming general elections.
Joseph is the incumbent holding down the Economic Affairs Ministry in the government led by Allen Chastanet. Henry, whose only son died suddenly days before the incident, was said to be in a state of grief when he confronted Joseph who was on the pulpit at the time. Stephen told reporters that the Church understands Henry’s loss which can bring about deep emotional pain to Henry’s family however, Stephen made it clear that the incident “cannot be condoned” by the church. He also shared that the church is trying to repair the damage between the two men (both Henry and Joseph are members of the Seventh Day Adventist church) and revealed that Henry and his wife have both apologized.“I am also happy that Brother Henry and his wife expressed willingness to come to the church on May 1 to apologize to the church, however, we were not able to allow it, due to the emotional state of the church. But they have sent out a written apology to the church,” Stephen said.
The apology from Henry and his wife reads: “Dear Brethren, My wife and I want you to know that we regret coming into the Forestierre SDA Church on Sabbath, April 24th, and so we sincerely apologize that our presence, words, and actions caused disruption to your service. We hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive us. Our preference would have been to visit you on Sabbath May 1st, to offer this apology in person; however, based on guidance and feedback fromPastorStephen, we refrained from doing so and will wait until you are ready to receive us. In keeping with the counsel of Matthew 18:15-17, we will reach out, in due course, to Bro. Guy Joseph, and with the assistance of PastorStephen, seek to address some of the underlying concerns, which we hope can result in an elevation of the level of discourse and conduct of all parties concerned in this matter.”
The church’s response comes long after the incident and many persons have been questioning their silence. Some persons have even demanded answers from the SDA church but according to Stephen the church was only following their reconciliation policy.“Many persons have been asking, where is the church in all of this. I would like to say to everyone that as a church the first step to be taken when there is an impasse between two members is to follow the church’s reconciliation policy; that is bringing the members together in a Christ-like manner and this we have sought to do from the first time the story broke out to us on April 25.
We have sought to call and to pray with both parties; this is how the church handles its issues when members get themselves in any kind of challenge. There is a reconciliation policy that we follow at all times.”Executive Secretary of the SDA Mission, Rose Mary Desir praised church members for dealing with the situation in a “Christ-like manner”. Desir also revealed that the church will be providing support for members who have been affected by the incident.“We understand the trauma they experienced and we have sought professional help for them. As a church we seek to bring emotional healing to all,” she explained.