Church group expresses outrage over murder of pastor in front of family

A photo posted to Facebook by the Spanish Town Tabernacle and Greater Portmore Tabernacle to wish their pastor, Lynval “Marki” Lewis, a happy birrhday in June 2021.
A photo posted to Facebook by the Spanish Town Tabernacle and Greater Portmore Tabernacle to wish their pastor, Lynval “Marki” Lewis, a happy birrhday in June 2021. | Facebook

A group of churches in Jamaica has, for a second time this year, spoken out against the rising crime and murders in the country after a pastor was shot and killed in front of his family near his home this week. The Caribbean nation has recorded more than 1,400 killings this year thus far.

Pastor Lynval “Marki” Lewis from the Spanish Town Tabernacle and Greater Portmore Tabernacle in the Saint Catherine parish in southeast Jamaica was shot multiple times by an unidentified gunman as he was driving with his family near his home on Monday, The Gleaner reported.

In a statement, the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches called Pastor Marki “another victim of the heinous nature of this ever-prevalent criminal activity, underscored by the fact that like so many other victims he was murdered in broad daylight in the presence of his closest relatives.”

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The group said it was “disheartening” that the pastor, who was “selflessly” serving God and the country and was dedicated to uplift others, was brutally killed. “May God grant everlasting rest to his soul and consolation to his family and church community.”

The nation should “lament,” it continued, “that so many of our people have embraced a culture of violence.”

Jamaica now has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean, the JUGC noted.

According to InSight Crime, which relies on data published by the Constabulary Force, at least 1,421 murders had been reported in Jamaica this year.

“However, despite the alarm and concern which we feel, we have firmly resolved to fervently continue to promote peace, human dignity, and the sanctity of life,” the group of churches said.

“In addition, may all Jamaicans of goodwill resolve to promote due regard for human dignity in all social spheres of engagement as a contribution to diminishing violence and abuse of persons,” it added.

Jamaica was also the country with the highest number of murders in the Caribbean and Latin America in 2020, according to InSight Crime’s Homicide Round-Up.

InSight Crime reported 1,301 killings in Jamaica in 2020, a homicide rate of 46.5 per 100,000 people.

“The United Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens or above to be an ‘epidemic,’” InSight Crime’s Parker Asmann and Katie Jones wrote in an analysis at the time. “Jamaica’s total killings marked a marginal decline from 2019’s total of 1,339 murders and came as another welcome improvement over 2017’s sum of 1,647.”

In July, the JUGC had released a similar statement, saying the culture of violence was unacceptable to the Church and law-abiding citizens and called on churches to host special days of prayer against crime and violence, The Gleaner reported at the time.

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