Churches pull out of Tempo TV network

POSTED: 10/31/12 12:14 PM

GREAT BAY- Churches that had initially put their support behind the hosting of Tempo Turns 7 in St.Maarten have now pulled it. In a move which shocked some sections of society and pleased others, the churches which fall under the banner of the St. Martin United Ministerial Foundation (SMUMF) issued a statement yesterday under the title SMUMF Cannot Support Tempo.

The statement signed by foundation chairman Pastor Wycliffe Smith indicated that when the SMUMF was initially introduced to the Tempo concept, its board saw it as “an ideal opportunity to reach the masses for Christ since it is the church’s mandate to go into all the world and preach the gospel. However, the church’s message has to be a consistent one to our youth as well as to the general public,” the release stated.

“Tempo Turns 7 is being promoted as a total package with one night devoted to a religious celebration. SMUMF has no direct influence over the content and quality of the entertainment or the artistes during the other nights and as such is unable to give its blessing to Tempo’s anniversary program. SMUMF believes in using the media to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel message, in whatever form however, must not be mixed with aspects of entertainment that go against biblical principles,” the statement continued.

Based on the heavily publicized schedule of events, the first day of Tempo’s anniversary celebration would have been dedicated to seven Christian ministers expounding on the network’s seven principles and providing what the company called a “spiritual revitalization.” Local gospel singers would have also been given an opportunity to perform. This was all set for November 25, the opening night of the one week pan-Caribbean affair. The remaining nights would feature local, regional and international artistes for reggae, soca and dancehall shows.

Since the announcement of the church’s involvement more than a month ago, the SMUMF had come in for heavy criticism. People accused the body of being double standard since it had openly criticized several aspects of the island’s carnival celebrations but was now publicly partnering with Tempo.

When Today contacted Pastor Wycliffe Smith he stated that he was not present during the foundation’s initial negotiations with Tempo; he was in India. Smith had only just returned to the island and based on his assessment of the church’s role in the event, he made the decision to opt out of the arrangement.

Smith said that the foundation sent formal letter via email to Tempo’s chief executive officer Fredrick Morton Jr. early last week stating the foundation’s new position. He also spoke with Morton Jr. formally at which time the network owner expressed his disappointment.
The SMUMF waited almost a week after to make the public aware that it has now refused the Tempo platform. All this time, Tempo continued to promote its “made in heaven” week of activities with the church’s involvement.
“We have closed that chapter and it remains final,” Smith said yesterday.
The opening night may now be in limbo but when Today contacted Tempo country representative Peter Gittens he said that he was only now learning of the church’s decision from us.
Gittens said that just two weeks ago, a meeting was held with the church body and Tempo during which time, they requested more clarification on the format of the various shows and information on the contracted performers. It may have been after this meeting that the SMUMF made up its mind.
Earlier this month, another church organization, the St. Maarten/Saint Martin Christian Council of Churches, distanced itself from Tempo as well. This body represents the Methodist, Catholic, Anglican, Moravian and Salvation Army denominations.
At that time, the group said that while the SMUMF took photo opportunities with Tempo, their actions did not represent the collective approval of all churches.
“As Christian communities it is our duty to instill in our young people good Christian, social and moral values and we all know and see that Tempo promotes just the opposite. The Council is of the opinion that this celebration is being sold as a Tourism promotion for St. Maarten. With the majority of shows being shown on Tempo portray young people of the Caribbean at their worse behavior in dance movements and dress-code which can be termed as vulgarity.
Endorsing such a celebration would mean promoting St. Maarten through our young people behaving in such a way as mentioned above and then with the approval of our churches on the island. It is a pity to note that government would lend itself for such events and even try to use the churches on the island to justify their decision to not only endorse but also finance this type of celebration,” the Christian Council of Churches said in a press statement at the start of October.
Tempo Turns 7 has the support of the government who has injected $400 thousand in the celebrations. The presence of Tempo, the gateway to all things Caribbean will not only serve to put the island in the spotlight. It will also pave the way for young entertainers to showcase their talents that will be viewed by many, Morton Jr. told Today two weeks ago.
It is yet unclear if local gospel artistes will still take to the Tempo stage, independent of the SMUMF, come November 25 where their performance will be seen in 24 Caribbean islands and by Tempo viewers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut on Cablevision Channel 1105.
Last night Morton Jr. issued a terse statement firing back at the SMUMF and hinting that the religious group may have too judgmental.
“In the end we are all trying to do right in the eyes of God, but judgment belongs to him and only him. The SMUMF is entitled to their opinion which I respect, but make no mistake, Tempo is God’s property and on November 25 we Rise and Shine and give him the glory and we celebrate the seven years of work he has given us as a highly blessed and favored network focused on bringing the Caribbean forward,” he said.

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