Woman sacrificed at Kevin Smith's cult church gets emotional send-off
Pall-bearers carrying the casket bearing the body of Taneka Gardner at Hillview Memorial Gardens onTuesday.

MOORE PARK, St James — It was a very solemn thanksgiving service at Hillview Memorial Gardens here for Taneka Gardner, who was, on Sunday, October 17, 2021, killed during a ritual at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries in Albion, St James.

She was remembered as a very hard-working individual who was on the cusp of ascension at her workplace when she was killed at her church.

Gardner, an office attendant at Appliance Traders Ltd in Montego Bay, was one of three people killed in the bizarre ritual at the church pastored by cult leader Kevin Smith, who was arrested and later died in an accident at Church Road in Bog Walk, St Catherine, while being transported by the police to Kingston to be questioned by senior detectives.

Forty-two members of the church were arrested after the police, on their approach to the building, were reportedly fired upon the day Gardner was killed. The 42 were later charged with breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act, but a senior member of the church is now before the court on murder charges.

During Tuesday's funeral service, Meakof Johnson, Gardner's distraught brother, broke down in tears and could not complete the remembrance he was named on the programme to deliver.

“She was a nice person; very humble, very hard-working. When we were kids we had a lot of fun...” Johnson stuttered before breaking down.

Moya Clarke, niece of the deceased, also had to be comforted while delivering a selection in song.

A distressed sister, Shelana Gardner Clarke, who fought hard to choke back the tears, also remembered her sister as a hard-working individual and one who never carried a grudge.

“The loss of a loved one is never an easy experience. It brings tears, heartache, mourning, pain, and grief. It also causes us to consider 'What could I do or say differently?' “ the grieving Gardner Clarke said.

Gardner's former ATL colleagues recounted that she was an ambitious team player who went beyond the call of duty.

In fact, according to Joy Clark, regional sales manager at ATL, Gardner was poised to transition to the sales team.

“You could never tell what she did because even if she is on the floor and a customer came in and everybody else was busy, she knew the products and she made it a part of her duty to give more than we asked — she would go and help a customer. She was able to take a sale to the end,” Clark remembered.

She added: “She had hopes of becoming part of the sales team and we started to work together to ensure that she transitioned there. She went out and she did subjects and she passed her subjects, and she came with her certificates. She was on a road, she was moving up. She was very ambitious.”

Maxine Richardson, another ATL worker, recounted that Gardner was always trying to win souls at work.

“Even though she was an office attendant, her presence at work [was such that no one could tell the nature of her job]. She always encouraged persons to give their lives to God — that was the Taneka we knew at work,” Richardson said.

“I remember the Friday evening before she died we stopped at Fairview. She was preparing to go to church on Sunday. It was her intention to be back at work on Monday. She was a hard worker.”

Delivering the sermon, Reverend Joseph Anderson of the Springfield Circuit of Baptist Churches contended that Gardner suffered the consequences of being daring.

“She suffered the consequences. I wonder how many of us are willing to take any risk, move out of our comfort zone to go into a closer relationship with God. Some of us are quite content with where we are with our relationship with God,” the clergyman said.

“When a person go to church, it is something that they are expecting. Sometimes we say, ' Why don't they stay with the tried and proven churches which have been around for a long time?' But some people are not satisfied with what they get from the normal, established churches and are seeking more from God elsewhere.”

A distraught Meakof Jarrett (right) is consoled by his uncle RexfordThomas during the funeral service.
GARDNER... killed at her churchduring ritual
BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

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