People ‘not involved’
By Maria Bradshaw | Fri, April 20, 2012 - 12:05 AM
While religious leaders have acknowledged that the church has an important role to play in society many have also expressed concern that people are not getting involved.
This was the consensus among the leaders who attended THE NATION’s public forum NATION Talkback Wednesday night at the Ann Johnson Auditorium, where the topic Is the Church Losing Society or Is Society Losing the Church, was debated.
The WEEKEND NATION spoke to some of the leaders immediately following the discussion.
Pastor John Forde, of Revival Time Assembly, who believed that the church would never lose its influence, called on Barbadians to invest in a relationship with God.
“I am very concerned about the direction in which the island is going,” Forde said. “I am a Pentecostal minister, and when we reflect on years ago, there was a time on the island when you had to beg people for a pass to get into the church. These days, it as though people have very little regard for the things of God.
“I am part of a coalition of churches which just completed six nights of a crusade. The church I pastor at, we are working on initiatives within the surrounding communities where we are based, looking to work with children who are sitting the 11-Plus [examination], to find ways to help persons with breakfast and we are doing some fantastic work in those surrounding communities.”
He dismissed the notion that the churches were not doing anything.
“This year, 2012, we have seen a spirit of evangelism manifesting itself and I believe that God is preparing the church for some powerful things, but I am concerned for my fellow Barbadians and I trust that they will come into a relationship with Christ.”
While lauding the media house for organizing the event, Victor Roach said the church should continue engaging the society.
“I am extremely happy for THE NATION taking the opportunity to organize this exercise. I think the panellists were well prepared. What was very strengthening for me is the commitment the church has in taking its mission and mandate seriously.
“Each of the panellists, in their own way, committed the church to operating beyond the walls of the church.
“I am saying we need to go further. This should not end tonight with just panellists just presenting. I noticed that we had representatives from the Barbados Christian Council and the Barbados Council of Evangelical Churches and I think it should be one of their priorities to come together, not prodded by any paper, not prodded by any political considerations, but they should now leave here to take the fight forward.”
Roach, who is the director of the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, added: “For me, as an ordained minister, I am conscious of the role that alcohol abuse plays in weakening the strength of a nation.
Of the Talkback, he said: “We have already begun to see a responsive attitude on the part of church leadership across the board, and in other religions, to that kind of a message and we will only be building on what has started here tonight. And we look forward to THE NATION helping to facilitate and prod us when we need that kind of stimulus to go forward.”
However, Reverend Carlyle Williams of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, said the church was always engaging the public at forums.
“The church has a mission and we are committed to our mission. I understand the significance of accountability and we are free to give an account of ourselves to hear what the community is saying and to see how best we can serve. The church is always having forums . . . . we do not go out there and make a big commotion about what we are doing.”
When asked if the church should be making a “commotion” to let people know what it was indeed doing, Williams reiterated that “the church has always been in the forefront”.
Noting that the church had been leading in the fight against HIV/AIDS, he added: “We have been in the forefront of the ABC model as it relates to stigma and discrimination. We have been in the forefront of being socially involved in empowering our people.”
Similarly, Bishop Marlon Husbands, of Sanctuary Empowerment Centre, called for the continuation of such forums.
“I want to laud THE NATION for the initiative and I believe it has achieved some of its purpose. I definitely believe the initiative is worth it.”
“It would be unrealistic for me to measure its impact but I believe that some things said would have definitely made a difference and the nation should not just look at the church to do it, they should continue in mobilizing such awareness because one of the things we accuse the media houses for is sensationalization and that kind of stuff.”
Jamaican evangelist Lloyd Henry felt the church could not change what was happening because it had been predetermined.
“I believe that the church cannot change what is happening in terms of the atrocities and so on, because Jesus spoke of the last days – the violence and crime, the immorality, the perversion – Jesus spoke about these in the last days.”
He, however, expressed the view that the church needed to continue discussing “the Gospel of Christ”.
“Let the world know the truth. Let the world know that Jesus Christ died for this world and he is coming back. We need to prepare ourselves,” he warned.
Henry said what was happening was not peculiar to Barbados but was a worldwide phenomenon.
“In Jamaica, we have similar concerns. There is homosexuality, prostitution, drugs – it is the same thing – it is a worldwide thing.”
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