Pastor makes surprise visit to Uptown Mondays
It was an Uptown Mondays with a difference two nights ago, when self-proclaimed 'Pastor of the Dancehall', Stephen Blake, rolled into the popular event.
Patrons were not prepared for the events that would unfold inside Savannah Plaza, as, dressed in his clerical collar, Pastor Blake took to the microphone to share the scriptures and a few verses of his contemporary gospel single God A Me Boss.
Artistes including Ding Dong, I-Octane and Kemar Highcon were wild with excitement, and the pastor even 'buss a dance move' with Ding Dong.
Dancer with the Ravers Clavers, Desha, who took pictures with Blake, said she liked his performance.
"Yuh know him get a fahwud and to be honest, mi like weh him do. Him preach the word and observe, no backlash fi gwaan fi dat," she said.
Uptown Mondays' promoter, Whitfield 'Witty' Henry, noted that the pastor's visit to the event was an unusual, but welcomed occurrence.
"If he, as a pastor, wants to save souls, where is the best place but the dance? Him will get backlash from the church community because them always take dancehall for scum of the earth or 'cause they don't think it can act as something positive," Witty said.
Speaking to THE STAR, Pastor Blake, who has performed at Reggae Sumfest for three consecutive years, said he wanted it to be clear that he was "there to do Father God's work."
"I know I have the critic dem and people wah ah label me as a fake but that's not my concern. The nation inna crisis right now and my job as a nation builder is to bring hope. Dancehall is a powerful tool that God has blessed the nation with," he said.
The pastor, who recently relocated to Kingston from Mandeville, says that his church understands his mission as it relates to reaching millennials.
"Is this a new style of winning souls? Maybe, who knows? I can't be on major platforms and not go to where the people are. The last time I planned to attend a street dance, it rain out; then another time, police lock it off. I wasn't going to let Monday pass and I didn't go out," he said, adding that he hopes his engagement with the people creates a buzz and secures him a spot on Reggae Sumfest.
He says the dancehall community is a mix of the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent, but the positive feedback he receives in that environment surpasses that from the religious community.
"Why you think me nuh buss inna gospel? Dem [the traditional churchgoers) done never like me. If me get an opportunity to bless up the dance and vibe with the people, I will take it any day," he said.
Father Sean Major-Campbell, pastor of the Christ Church in Vineyard Town, gave his thumbs up to the move.
"At first, I was not sure if he was all about entertainment, but if he is able to reach persons in this context, then go for it," he said. "Even more important is a ministry of presence, bringing hope and encouragement to people in the midst of their quest for release from the stressors of life. Mek we big up Pastor Blake, as long as di message a seh peace and love and blessings fi everybody."