'The Church is not sitting idly'
The church, as an institution, is not to be seen as just a building but a community organisation that caters to the needs of the residents in the community. As a result, the entire organisation is often called upon to aid the community in one way or another. Some churches do outreach programmes such as children's treats, while others collect a special offering and use it to assist the needy in various ways.
Family and Religion spoke with Janet Foster, wife of the founder of the Grace Chapel Assemblies Church of God in Summerfield, Clarendon.
"The Church is involved in several things as it does what it can to better the lives of the residents it serves. We do regular visitations in and around the community. We visit the sick and the shut-ins and pray for them and give them food or other items we know they might need," Foster said. She also indicated many churches also have schools that they sponsor so children can attend free or for a small fee.
CHURCH'S MAIN FUNCTION
Foster explained that the church's main function is to save souls. "When a soul is saved, it's a big thing. When a soul is saved, angels in heaven rejoice. When a soul is saved, you have changed the person's outlook on life, boosted their morale, lifted their self-esteem, and changed their course of life, as we often hear in testimonies from persons who were probably heading towards criminality or some other deviant path."
She continued: "The Bible, in Ephesians 4:28, (talks about) those who steal no more, but begin to work willingly with their hands so that they can have to give, and that is another important thing. So if we can get everybody in the community to change their course of life, it would be wonderful because our duty is to reach out to people and encourage them to seek salvation.
"The benefits of the doings of the church do not have to be tangible. Changing someone's life is a good thing.
"Another major function the church performs is to pray for people because prayer keeps the community safe. There are lots of evil in the atmosphere that we can't see with the naked eye that are coming into the community, so the church has to pray to keep them out. We, as a church with strong faith and spirituality, have to stand in the gap for the community," she said.
According to Foster, the church does not hesitate to provide counselling to troubled persons struggling with personal issues. "As an institution, we also have to attract young people and steer them along a path of righteousness while they are still young. In order to attract especially the unattached young people to church, creating and maintaining an active youth department will capture the attention of the youth. It has to be youth oriented with a system where youth reach youth."
She said the Church serves its purpose as it belongs to the community and not just a set of people. "The Church is doing what it can in its own way in the community."