Westmoreland’s custos, Bishop Hartley Perrin, is seeking the Government’s intervention to regulate persons who just emerge, without training, and declare themselves to be pastors and bishops and then go on to embarrass the church.
Perrin, who leads the flock at the St Peter’s Anglican Church in Petersfield, Westmoreland, was speaking against the background of reports that a pastor from the community was arrested and charged with rape in connection with an incident which allegedly occurred in St Mary over two years ago.
The accused man, 52-year-old Oral Britton, was arrested by detectives attached to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse and charged with rape and grievous sexual assault committed in Retreat, St Mary, in 2019.
“There needs to be some regulatory framework as anybody can set up a church and call themselves any name. They can be bishop, archbishop, and even pope, if they want to,” said Perrin. “This they can do without any affiliation to any religion or any accountability to anything or anyone but themselves, and that can be dangerous.
“I am not saying that if you have the right framework persons cannot differ, but you have a level of accountability, and you have somebody to relate to, to indicated that there is a weakness, or a fault, or sin,” said Perrin. “I personally do not know this man and neither have I ever heard of him or his church, but we are sort of tired of persons who are self-proclaimed pastors and bishops.”
According to Perrin, in looking at the persons affiliated with the church who have got themselves in trouble with the law, the majority are self-proclaimed pastors.
“Self-proclaimed bishops and pastors oftentimes discredit those of us who try our best to conform to the Christian principles,” continued Perrin. “While I am not making any condemnation, because all of us are sinners and fall short, but we have to live to a higher standard, and certainly rape, in any shape or form, is not acceptable.”
Perrin said it is very sad that a man who labels himself as a pastor, and uses an address from Petersfield, is now facing such a scandalous situation.
“You know the name Petersfield has never been associated with that kind of behaviour, and so it sort of puts us in a bad light, and it is very regrettable,” said Perrin.
Rayon Young, another pastor from Petersfield, said he, too, has heard of the allegations against Britton and is quite disturbed by the news.
“I know him quite well but I don’t want to mention the faith to which he preaches, because I am a part of the same denomination,” Young said. “When I heard of the incident, I reached out to some of our brothers and I learned that this particular pastor was being sought by the police, and to tell you the truth, I thought that he had already been arrested for that incident. I was shocked when I learned that he was arrested just two days ago.”
A police source told The Gleaner that the Westmoreland police are now conducting a series of investigations in Petersfield as part of their effort to assist the St Mary police in a bid to see if there are any other cases of sexual allegations against Britton.