Monday 20 May, 2019

Church stands firm in the face of attack against its own - pastor

Junior Headlam, Bishop of 41 Old Harbour Road Church of God of Prophecy, has said that the murder of James Johnson, an ordained minister, has only strengthened the resolve of the church to do God's work. 

"We cannot think of any reason why someone would want to kill James, except wickedness and evil," Bishop Junior Headlam told Loop reporter Claude Mills. 

Police report that James Johnson, one of the youngest licensed ordained ministers in the Church Of God of Prophecy, was shot dead at 41 Old Harbour Road in St Catherine on Thursday. The incident has since sent shock waves across  the country.

"This is a tragic situation because for the murder to have been committed in the house of the Lord, it shows that the society is at its lowest moral depth, but this is a situation which the church can use to dig its heels in and continue the work of God. Good will triumph over evil, evil may reign for a season, but we are sure that good will triumph in the end," said the pastor.

Bishop Headlam lamented the loss of a bright young man who had a lot to offer to the society. 

"We have lost a valuable young man, one who I think had a bright future in this church and the country as a whole. James was very helpful and committed to the church and he worked hard to accomplish tasks, he will be greatly missed. He lived his life for Christ, doing God's work, and we in the church have a greater understanding of eternal life, we believe in the resurrection, we will suffer and grieve, and the gruesome nature of the act makes things more complicated, but we will continue God's work."

There was a large turnout of well-wishers and congregations from neighbouring parishes at the 41 Old Harbour Road church on Friday for a prayer meeting and reflection services. The regular services will be conducted in the church on Sunday. 

"We are hurt but we will manage, the church goes on...the murderer will be caught and brought to justice, if the police cannot do it, God will do it," Bishop Headlam said.

Police report that James, a minister without pastoral responsibility, was shot shortly after arriving at the church to set up for a bible class that was scheduled to start at 6 that evening. 

"James wasn't teaching a class at the time as some members of the media were reporting. The class hadn't started yet," Bishop Headlam said.

Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, in condemning the killing of the clergyman, said “the invasion of murder into a church — a sacred place of worship — is utterly reprehensible”.

Dr Chang said senior investigators in the St Catherine North Police Division and the Major Investigations Division have been assigned to the case and he is anticipating the reports and arrest of the criminal(s) found responsible for the murder.

“I am urging all persons with any information concerning this gruesome act to come forward and share their information with the police,” Minister Chang appealed on Friday. 

Police reports said that there were two cars on the church premises at the time of the shooting, one belonging to Johnson and the other to his unidentified attacker. Johnson went into the church to set up for his 6 p.m. bible class and was alone when a man entered.

Gunshots then rang out and Johnson's killer, who reportedly wore a long-sleeved shirt, exited the building while concealing the gun in his waist. He entered the waiting car and then made good his escape. Johnson was discovered soon after  in a pool of his blood in the vestry of the church. 

The Spanish Town police are investigating. 

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