Regional

Revivalism alive and well!

St Ann minister doing over 40 years in denomination

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 09, 2014    

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FLAGS are flown inside the building, water is placed in vessels on a table, olive oil is an active part of worship, so too are the drums.

But according to Bishop Clifford Cameron, the denomination that he leads practises Christianity and not obeah as many are led to believe.

"A revival church is a normal Christian denomination," he said.

A pastor for over 20 years, Bishop Cameron said that revivalism is an authentic form of worship, which is attracting more youth than ever before.

"It is very authentic worship; nothing counterfeit," he insisted.

He added that it is an African style of worship which includes a combination of European styles. However, he pointed out that it is a part of the rich Jamaican culture.

In New Ground, Lime Hall, where he leads the Bethel Lighthouse, which is a part of the Temple of Light Church of God in Jamaica, Cameron said that the church has also attracted several tourists who stop by during services on a Wednesday and Saturday at the Sabbath-keeping institution to observe and participate in the worship.

Many of them have provided positive responses of their experience at the humble denomination, which some said provided a homely and friendly experience.

He further highlighted that membership has grown and that as a community organisation, the stigma which was once associated with the church has decreased.

Worshippers believe that this is as a result of the leadership of Rev Cameron, who is also very involved in his community.

Born in Lime Hall, Cameron said that he has always wanted what is good for his community, and so as a religious leader he has been doing all that he can for its development.

Cameron believes that he had an early calling on his life, as he became a Christian from age seven and has held firm to his faith for over 40 years, over 20 of which has been spent leading from the front.

"It's not coincidence," he said, referring to the start of his journey as a Christian at age seven.

"Before I formed thee in thy mother's womb I knew thee," he quoted from the Bible. Cameron believes that he was predestined to be a minister of religion.

He became a pastor at age 26, one of the youngest in his community, and since then has been in charge.

Since becoming a pastor, Cameron revealed that he has not only been attending to the church, but has made it a part of his duty to be involved in the community.

In contributing to his hometown, the pastor has sponsored several football leagues which he believes has assisted in building the youth in the community.

He has donated football gear to community football clubs, sponsored two teams in the community youth football league, and made all those contributions from personal funds.

Cameron is not only seen in the area as a dynamic preacher and motivational speaker, but as an inspiration to many in the community.

The minister has also been involved in the schools, not only carrying out devotional activities, but ensuring that the children have a taste of culture during celebrations like Jamaica Day.

Cameron said that he has also made it his duty to assist children who do not have strong parental support.

The father of four (three boys and one girl) has also taken several children under his roof as his own.

The Food For The Poor distributor in the area also has a passion for helping the less fortunate which has seen many referring to him as "the man of the poor".

"As a pastor I feel that I have a duty to be involved within the community," he explained.

"The church works with the community to impact the world," he added.

Due to its active community involvement, he believes that Bethel Lighthouse has outgrown the stigma which many revival churches have faced in the past.

Recognising the impact of the church, Cameron is preparing to have a Peace March, along with other churches for the community, which has been plagued by robberies lately.

Although members of his denomination may dress differently with head wrap and uniformed clothing, Cameron revealed that he does not segregate when it comes to other denominations.

"I visit all the other churches in the community," he disclosed.

Cameron believes if the church movement unites, it has the power to create an impact in communities that it serves.

"God has me for a special purpose in this community," he suggested.

The Bishop of four years said that he wants to see his community as one of the best in Jamaica.

"I want to see my community as one of the most vibrant in St Ann and Jamaica," he stated.

This is something he believes he can help to achieve, as many in the community look up to him.

"People see me as a Black Moses... as a hero, one that really believes in principle," he stated.

Cameron also believes that the support of his wife, who is a pastor, has positioned him at a place where he can better serve his community.

"I have a wife who helps to make my ministry strong," he said referring to his wife of 29 years, Rev Gillian Cameron.

Cameron said that he has made himself available to anyone and so even when people are in trouble with the law, they will look to him for support.

"People will come to me at night and say 'Pastor, I am in trouble'," he said.

While he stands for the right and does not compromise what he believes in, the Bishop said that he makes himself available.

"They know that I am trustworthy," he added.

Cameron has also been involved in counselling. He counsels people getting married, as well as those who may have problems and need someone to talk to.

Cameron, who conducts many funeral services, believes that officiating at funerals is a form of service to community and said that he does not agree with churches which refuse to have funeral services for people who are not members, when they die.

"It's a part of community work," he said. "I try to make myself available in every aspect."

Being involved, he maintained, has taught the community to be more appreciative and respectful of the church which many had once approached with caution.

Community members have also become more accepting of some practices of the church, he suggested.

People in the community have grown accustomed to some of the practices of the church, such as the sounding of the drums at six in the morning to welcome the new day and six in the evening to signal the closing of another day.

Some people have reportedly used the drums to keep track of time.

The unusual sounding of the drums outside these times is often an indication to the community that something is wrong.

"If a service is not happening at the church, the community, which has grown accustomed to the times the drum is sounded, will start asking questions," Cameron revealed.

He also disclosed that on days of service at the place of worship, people who may be visiting for the first time will not get lost, as the sound of the drums will lead them to the location.

Although more Jamaicans are accepting revivalism, Rev Cameron believes that a larger number of people from overseas are learning more about the style of worship than locals have been doing.

He emphasised that revivalism is not an attraction but a form of worship. However, foreigners are most times more anxious to know about it.

"Just like people live here and don't know where Dunn's River is, people live here and don't know about it," he said.

Accepting overseas visitors to the church is seeing developmental prospects for the community, he explained. Tour companies are now wanting to partner to develop the area.

Cameron is, however, still concerned that many unemployed people are in the community. He believes that this has affected the crime level and hopes that through unity more can be done to address the problem.

Cameron, who acts as a general bishop when the church's general bishop is off the island, has received several awards in his community for the work he has been doing over the years. According to him, he will continue to do the best that he can.

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