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Bishop backs bus preaching ban: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2012 December 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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The Bishop of Jamaica has backed the Jamaica Urban Transit Company’s (JUTC’s) ban on bus preachers, saying that proselytizing passengers on public transport was “boorish.” Writing in last week’s Kingston Sunday Observer, Bishop Howard Gregory said that while Christians were called to “go and make disciples of all nations”, that did not mean Christians should harangue people to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.

The bishop objected to a culture of “noise-making” adopted by some Christian groups that had led to harangues on public transport and proselytizing in hospitals. “I am aware of situations in which such persons attempt to take very sick patients out of hospital beds in order to get them baptised by immersion. The situation has become unbearable,” Bishop Gregory said.

Last month the managing director of the JUTC, Hardley Lewin, banned bus preachers following complaints of aggressive proselytizing on the country’s public transport. Several Pentecostal pastors have denounced the ban and called Admiral Lewin the “anti-Christ” for regulating when and where they can preach.

However Bishop Gregory wrote that bus preachers had misconstrued the Gospel. While Matthew 28:18-20 proclaims the Christian imperative to evangelize, “unfortunately, there have been many instances in history when the church has understood this to mean the coercion and mandatory conversion of persons to the faith,” the bishop wrote.

“These are sad chapters in the life of the church and to which the church in this age should not lend its support,” he wrote, adding that this “approach to the exercise of the mission of the church is inconsistent” with the model of ministry presented in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

“There was never any attempt to corral an audience and then present the Gospel to them, but rather, a recognition that the appeal of the gospel is voluntary and must not be presented to people in ways that are boorish and an imposition.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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