I TURNED IT DOWN
Veteran clergyman says 'whole truth' on national recognition should be toldSunday, October 10, 2021
BY MIGUEL A THOMAS
On the heels of news that Pastor Merrick “Al” Miller has been removed from the list of national honorees for 2021, the clergyman has charged that he will continue his work towards building a better Jamaica.
“Please be assured that, as I have done for decades, I will, in even greater earnest, continue the work for the transformation of our nation and the advancement of the kingdom of God,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.
The head of Fellowship Tabernacle said he made the decision to write to the Government formally during the “first days of September” turning down the public honour which had been granted to him after objection was plastered in the media.
He maintains, however, that he is thankful for the recognition that had been considered due to him for his service.
“As is known, I was nominated by citizens for consideration for a national award, which was confirmed by the National Awards Committee of Government. I expressed my sincere gratitude to both for the kind gesture,” Miller said.
He continued: “When I saw the indignation of many persons unfolding in both social and traditional media, I informed and later confirmed to the committee in writing, many weeks ago, that given the current circumstances, accepting the award would not bestow the honour that it is meant to convey. Hence, rescinding the award was the natural course of action as indicated by the committee chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Horace Chang. It's unfortunate that those who 'broke' the story chose to minimise that kernel of truth...
“It appears there are some misconceptions and assumptions being made that ought to be corrected in the interest of truth. It is disappointing that some journalists and some media houses are not committed to truth as a primary output, but rather sensationalism and controversy.
“Journalistic honesty is critical to a strong society. Journalists are among the gatekeepers of a nation, like the police and the Church,” chided the firebrand Miller.
He was, however, sober in acknowledging that the objections made publicly on the decision to grant him the investiture came from individuals entitled to their opinions, even if he disagreed.
“I understand their concerns and, for some, disappointment, owing to their ignorance of truth. No malice held. I hope that when truth is known they will at least acknowledge their error of jumping to conclusions outside of finding truth and then accept that love and integrity is still around,” offered Miller.
The senior pastor said, “The truth of the situation is, no blame ought to be laid at the foot of the Government or the chairman of the National Awards Committee on this issue,” adding that the situation was somewhat upsetting.
Asked about the impact of the episode on him personally, Miller said: “I'm not broken, as my faith keeps me together knowing God will cause it to work for good to assist me to help later to work to deal with the nation's number one problem of injustice. I am disappointed, though, that trying to resolve a problem [the 'Dudus' saga] could escalate and cause such hostility by some. Yet it has exposed hearts.”
The pastor offered a short response to the many detractors online: “Sorry for any hurt caused. And, what appears, as some term it, an 'unrepentant attitude' is conviction of commitment to always try to do what is right. One only repents of wrong action; hence, would do right again.”
Rev Dr Merrick Huel Antony Miller had been vested into the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander.
He has served as chairman of the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS), Build Jamaica Foundation, and the National Transformation Programme. He has also been deputy chairman of the Social Development Commission.
The congregation which Miller heads says it aims to “see men and women of the fellowship full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit, taking their places in national life, serving and influencing the society for righteousness”.
Referencing his previous run-ins with the law, resulting in convictions, though one case is up for appeal, Miller was asked if he carries shame. He responded: “Because of my teaching of my faith, [I have] no shame, but I am saddened and would not choose it. Yet, I am happy that the convictions were based on lies, not the principle of truth. The Bible teaches if you suffer for doing good, bear it. Jesus was convicted, Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, all convicted. [Nelson] Mandela, Sam Sharpe, [Paul] Bogle, [Marcus] Garvey, etc, all convicted”.