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OUR CARIBBEAN: Surprises in church/bank controversy


Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Surprises in church/bank controversy

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I had a trio of surprises during the very recent public controversy surrounding the pulling of the so-called “plug” by Banks Holdings Ltd on a financial agreement with the People’s Cathedral Church for the purchase of that corporate entity’s once functioning breweries complex at Wildey.
For what it may be worth, I wish to share these surprises with readers, aware that at the time of writing, both the decision-makers of the People’s Cathedral and the relevant banks involved in the purchase agreement had resumed negotiations.
I also consider it relevant to say to readers who may not be aware that I am a member of the People’s Cathedral.
First surprise: Banks Holdings Ltd found it necessary to place quite prominently in front of  its [former] breweries complex a For Sale sign while goodwill negotiations were still in process for the cathedral to overcome its unanticipated problem in raising the required additional deposit for the purchase agreement to take effect. 
What’s unusual is that a high-profile Christian church like the People’s Cathedral, known for its credibility in dealing with the local banking system, should have had to face the short-lived public embarrassment before better judgement prevailed in removal of the For Sale sign.
Second surprise: Rev. Dr Holmes Williams, chief pastor emeritus of the cathedral, thought it necessary to go public with his disappointment over the For Sale sign in a passionate statement to his congregation on that Sunday morning of April 28. The sign was later removed, as promised.  
For me, the surprise was Pastor Holmes’ angry claim that the management of commercial banks in Barbados were “powerfully stacked with Masonic Lodge members dedicated to the demise of Christian churches. . . .” – DAILY NATION, April 29. 
Third surprise: Anglican bishop Dr John Holder opted to enter the scenario with a spirited defence of the Masonic Lodge fraternity. He praised their “good works as Christians and stressed that the Anglican Church had never experienced any problem in securing funds from commercial banks”. – DAILY NATION, May 2. 
Subsequently, Pastor Williams was to get majority support in an informal poll conducted by and published in the last SUNDAY SUN, along with some criticism and praise.
What remains quite puzzling for this columnist, however, is the deafening silence of the Bankers’ Association.
While it is understandable that the involved commercial banks would not wish to be publicly identified, the association seems to have a social responsibility to make a public statement of relevance on this issue that has aroused much public interest.
The issue at this stage seems to be the association’s option for public silence as it pertains to the cathedral/banks controversy.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.

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