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(JAMAICA GLEANER) — The heartbreak of trying to absorb the shooting death of one of its own was overwhelming for the community of the Church of God of Prophecy, yesterday.
On Thursday evening, Pastor James Johnson, who was ordained a minister in 2014 and who served as the public relations officer for the church, was conducting a class at the church’s convention headquarters in St Catherine when a lone gunman walked in and shot him several times.
National overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy in Jamaica Bishop Winston Leith told The Gleaner that Johnson was very active at the Old Harbour Road church.
“He was a very brilliant young man, kind and full of humour. He loved the Lord and his church passionately. He was a motivator and an inspiration to others,” Leith said.
Speaking about the effect Johnson’s death was having on the church community, Leith said that it was a dark and gloomy time for them.
“It has taken a very hard toll on all of us, both at the administrative office – New Covenant Bible Institute – and the Gordon Connell Theological Seminary. The church, from all indications, is in a very sombre mood now,” he said.
Bishop William Hutchinson, overseer for the Clarendon South Church of God of Prophecy, said that yesterday was a “dark day” for the church.
“My area is severely affected. James was a well-rounded minister. He was a lecturer, and there are students from my area who are severely affected because he was their teacher. This loss has created a void that will not be easily filled,” Hutchinson said, adding that at one point, the deceased was his study partner at the Gordon Connell Seminary.
A HARD TOLL
Twenty-nine-year-old Johnson, who hailed from Red Hills in north Clarendon, was also known by pastor of the Free Town Church of God of Prophecy Zebulah Aiken, who herself lives in north Clarendon.
She said she had known him for many years and had come to see him like a son. She described his friendliness, his being easy to talk to, and how he made everyone feel comfortable around him.
“When you go to the office, he greeted you very friendly. He was a person that you could talk to. You were really comfortable around a young man like that. He was very energetic when it came to the work of the Lord, and whatever you asked him to do, once it was in his power, he would help you,” she said, adding that members from her church had been the recipients of his Bible lessons at the school.
“It’s taking a hard toll on all of us. We are yet to recover from the shock of what took place,” she said.
Johnson was killed within the boundaries of the state of public emergency in the St Catherine North Division.