Special Features
February 2, 2007
Bishop: Bible is final authority

Many teenagers are having sex and some homosexuals continue to claim that God made them so, but the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) will continue to acclaim the Bible as the “final authority on all matters,”

This is according to the Bishop of PAWI, St Vincent and the Grenadines district, Rev Sonny Williams, who sat down recently with SEARCHLIGHT on the occasion of the commencement of the organization’s 40th anniversary celebrations.{{more}}

A veteran of 29 years in the ministry, Rev Williams who was elected the head of the organization in 2002, said that even though changes will come as “we are maturing and truth is evolving”, the basic tenets of the faith are clear cut, instructions in scripture cannot and will not be altered to please man.

Rev. Williams admitted that there are many social challenges that the organization and the Church of Jesus Christ face on a whole, but the safety must be found in the adherence to God’s word.

“I know youths are having sex, it is a reality but we can’t surrender to this, purity must be taught, it is the way of the Lord,” he said.

Reflecting on his time in PAWI, Williams, 49, told SEARCHLIGHT that he was humbled to have been elected to the auspicious position seeing that he had become a member of the organization only three years prior.

For the first 22 years of his ministry life Williams was attached to the New Testament Church of God denomination, where he served in numerous capacities including District Overseer for seven years. He also pastored two churches, Liberty Lodge New Testament Church and for 13 years at the Lowmans’ branch.

“When I went to that conference I had no idea that I would be elected, I heard it mentioned but it was laughable at the time,” he said as he recalled the bi-annual conference in which he won the overwhelming support of pastors and church leaders to guide the organization. On two consecutive occasions he was also re-elected, most recently in 2006.

“I couldn’t help but wonder what they saw in me that gave them such confidence but I embraced the challenge and with everyone’s support we are continuing the work,” Williams said.

But leading PAWI wasn’t the main challenge, but rather leading the Glad Tidings Assembly in Gomea which was made vacant after the death of their beloved pastor, Rev Fitzroy Chandler in 1998. From 1971 to 1998 he was all the church knew, their only pastor and now Sonny Williams like Joshua was to lead them into the next frontier following Chandler’s Mosaic footsteps.

“My first task was to win their trust, and to know the membership and the community,” he said, adding that he knew the confidence of the people was the key to any success that he was to achieve.

The Glad Tidings Tabernacle church continued to grow under his stewardship, over 100 new members had been added during his time. One key focus of his ministry Williams said is the emphasis on the importance of education.

“When I started at Glad Tidings we had only two persons with degrees in the entire church now there are fifteen students studying overseas doing their first degrees,” he said with a smile.

His own daughters have made him proud; the eldest Shelly Ann, 22, a student of the St Georges University Medical School, is doing her clinical rotation at the St Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey while Chellise, 21, is in her final year at Shortwood Teachers’ College in Jamaica completing her Diploma in early childhood education, en route to doing her Bachelor’s degree in the same field.

Rev Williams who has been married to his wife Maureen for 24 years told SEARCHLIGHT that he is concerned about young ministers who are thrust into ministry without proper mentoring and has made that an integral part of the structure of PAWI.

“Young ministers need to be guided, it will save them from serious mistakes and guide them in the process of becoming efficient, purposeful ministers,” he said.

He said that he hopes to phase out from pastoral ministry by age 60, which will then allow him to branch into counseling, working to help mend broken lives.

Rev Williams is currently enrolled in a MSc programme in counseling with the University of the West Indies. His wife is the Head teacher at the Evesham Methodist primary school and also serves as the honorary Jamaican consul to St Vincent and the Grenadines.