The Heritage Month Committee plays an integral role in the annual Gospel Fest and Emancipation events such as the Rise and Shine Thanksgiving and the Sunday Morning Well Service. However, each year there are murmurings within the community about why these biblically centered events are part of the annual festivities. This question was put to Reverend Turnbull during his appearance on the Umoja radio program by host of the programme, Cromwell “Edju En Ka” Smith.
In mentioning the concern that has been publicly stated across various faucets of the Territory, Smith said, “Many religious organizations seem to feel that they should not be a part of the Emancipation celebration.”
In response, Dr. Turnbull said, “It depends on your understanding of who you are. I am very clear about who I am. I have a very secured position in Christ. I understand from his perspective that my mission is to the world. We are the lights of the world, salt of the earth; and I have no problem with that.”
The Clergyman stated that he too has heard the concern and noted that it was stated in context to certain behaviour that is displayed at the festivities.
“I understand people have a right to celebrate how they want, but when people behave in such a derogatory way, it’s just showing that maybe they’re not free at all. Maybe they don’t have the physical chains, but maybe they have some other chains on their hearts and on their minds, and you know what Bob Marley said--we ought to free our minds from mental slavery.
In further defending the religious community’s participation, Reverend Turnbull said, “The reason we are involved, and it’s not just me, it’s a number of other people of like faith and persuasion, it’s because we don’t believe in cursing the darkness, we believe in lighting a candle. And if each one of us light the candle, it'll light up the world.”
The church leader also took a swipe at the critics by suggesting that their position is not Christlike.
“What I have a problem with is that the people you are referring to, the religious community is that many often complain and resist participation or involvement in the celebration; they don’t understand that's when we are expected to be the light of the world, which in short would be the standard bearer. What I find crazy, I can’t find another word for it--is that we would not get involved, but yet we would fuss when things happen.”
The Reverend announced, “We would leave the gates wide open and when the enemy comes in and takes over, we want to know what happened. Then we want to have a prayer meeting to pray out all the demons and everything; are we okay? We got to check ourselves. What we are doing is nothing strange, it’s what Jesus does, and I got a feeling if the same Jesus that we talked about would come on this earth today, he would be barred from some of the churches. As a matter of fact, he would not be found in the places we expect him to be because when we check his history, he was in the marketplace, he was with fishermen--those are not people with necessarily clean language, but he was there.”
“We say we are more than 95 percent Christian in this community. I want to know which Jesus we are serving,” he added.