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Jamaican pastor, worshipers breach gathering ban in Antigua

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — The pastor of the Bolans New Testament Church of God, Jamaican Uriah Taylor, and three other members of the church will return to court on May 5 after they were granted bail on charges arising from their failure to comply with public health regulations banning gatherings in excess of 25 people.

Taylor and Alston Stoner, who had pleaded guilty to battery on the police, obstruction and resisting arrest on Monday, were due to have been sentenced on Tuesday, but when the matter was called, two other members of the church — Eric Rattary and Jennifer Kenton — admitted to obstructing a police constable during the incident at the church on Sunday when officers attempted to disperse the congregation for failure to comply with the 25-person restriction.

Their attorney Sherfield Bowen told Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards that he would be making a submission on behalf of his clients, challenging the legality of their charges and the social distancing regulations under the Public Health Act.

Bowen was asked to tender his submission by April 14, after which the prosecution will be given until April 24 to respond. The quartet will then return to court on May 5 for the magistrate’s decision.

The magistrate then provided bail to the four accused with the 61-year-old Kenton, a Jamaican who was visiting the island for a funeral, was released on EC$3,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail, with an EC$1,500 cash component. She was also required to have two local sureties and must also report to St John’s Police Station three days a week, as well as surrender her passport.

Rattary, 41, a barber, was given EC$2,000 bail with an EC$1,000 cash component. He, too, must be accompanied by two sureties and must report to the police three days a week, as well as surrender both his Antiguan and Jamaican passports.

The 64-year-old pastor, who has been here for more than 20 years, was granted EC$4,000 bail, with a cash component of EC$2,000 and should report to police three times a week. He was also asked to surrender his passport.

Stoner was also released on EC$3,000 bail, and was ordered to pay EC$1,500 forthwith and have two Antiguan sureties. The 33-year-old Jamaican was also asked to hand over his passport and work permit to the court and report to the police three times a week.

Meanwhile, in a letter from the New Testament Church of God Antigua District, Administrative Bishop Derrick Benta apologised to those in authority as well as the residents of Antigua and Barbuda for the “unfortunate event that took place at the Bolans New Testament Church of God on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

“As our islands and the globe continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic, we know, as an organisation, that every member is held to the same standard as everyone else, to follow the laws and guidelines of our country. Our failure to do so in that instance… was wrong and we are sorry. We beg your forgiveness and that of our fellow citizens in this situation,” the letter added.

The bishop pledged to “continue to encourage and hold our members and supporters to the very high standards of Antigua and Barbuda”.

5 COMMENTS

  1. It good!…holy dem ppl think they holy so?or they just can’t resist the offerings the larger congregations contributes?…they definitely don’t care about the church goers neither the church goers don’t care about themselves…stay at y’all home and pray yuh bunch of hypocrites,think when they dressed in their glamourous sunday bess for everyone to see,that they blessed….hotta fyah!

  2. I think you define the word stupid. Y’all are quick to judge and talk s*** about pastors but if you want knowledge then read your bible. If you’re a Christian, nothing like that is supposed to stop you from doing the things of God. In case you didn’t know, it is the right of people to practice their faith. There is no law above God’s law. Then again, read the book of Daniel chapter 3 to see how people behave even when they are tried or persecuted for their faith. And the bible did say that in the last days we will be persecuted for the sake of Jesus’ name.

  3. For God said that your soul is a temple of his dwellings and preachings,especially in such chaotic times of an infectious disease which is deadly unto mankind and no soul is immune to,..ppl must take responsibility even not for themselves but for others,..what if they contract this disease then they become a carrier to harm other humans,going to a large congregation doesn’t mean you are worthy…to my knowledge the pestilence and creepers at nights are the first one,s in the church at 5am burning candles on other persons names…church now is not what it was meant to be….pastors and preachers drive the most luxury rides(mind you!on the offerings collected)and they update on every new edition…it has been proven on somany occasions all across the globe even in our region and country how a number of church leaders molest little kids,sleeping with congregants wives,fondling little boys and somany other evil atrocities…look more than 80 high priest in Italy has died from this covid19…you think church gonna save you?your brain has been wash so you need to die and born again to overstand this evilous system….you can’t teach me nuffing fool,…..for god also said him who have eyes to see let’em see,for him who have ears to hear let’em hear.

  4. I in no way want you to mislead those who read your comments.

    So I’m just going to correct the Daniel 3 statement and even Daniel 6. In both instances the charge was brought against the Hebrew boys for worshipping a God that is not the specified one. You stated earlier that worship is the peoples’ right and that is true. The governments of the world are not telling people NOT TO WORSHIP or even WHOM they should worship, they’re only advising them to continue worshipping whomever they choose but in smaller groups and in the privacy of their homes (like Daniel in Daniel 6) for A SPECIFIC REASON: to minimize the spread.
    They’re not saying don’t worship in groups because we don’t like to see it, they’re saying don’t do it to prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed like in other countries. The ban is actually a fair ban – it spreads over all races, all religions, all sexes.

    Imagine this for one moment. Someone has a family member who owns a little Shop. They have decided to follow the social distancing requirements but I continue to gather for religion and I catch it and give it to a family member of yours and innocently this person becomes very ill to the point of having to be intubated…imagine if that family member is one of yours and you don’t even know who’s responsible for giving it to mum. All you know is some idiot contracted it and gave it to her.

    Would u still feel the same way?

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