St Mary denounces crime, host prayer vigil
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
On Tuesday night, victims of crime, their families, and dozens of local residents packed into the Hi-Lo car park in Port Maria, St Mary, for a two-hour prayer vigil hosted by the St Mary Ministers of Churches alongside the local police.
The event, which ran under the theme: 'Standing in the gap for peace: a call for intercession' was attended by several victims of crime, including Terri Nichols, the wife of US missionary Harold Nichols, who was brutally murdered in St Mary eight months ago.
According to the assistant commissioner of police in charge of Area Two, Fitz Bailey, the purpose of the vigil was to unite the people of the parish and help them develop a better relationship with the police through Christianity.
Speaking during the service, Bailey told Family and Religion: "The Community Safety and Security Branch has brought the Church together and the idea is to try and get people to understand that crime and violence is everybody's business, and we believe the Church has a critical role to play in terms of assisting the security forces in their crime-reduction strategy.
"Also, I believe there is a higher power than ourselves, and from time to time, we must seek direction. This coming together is really to pray, forge partnerships, and send the signal that we, as a people, are united against those who continue to perpetrate crime."
The vigil featured prayers, praise, and worship delivered by pastors from several churches, including the St Mary Parish Church, the Emanuel Baptist Church, the Emmanuel United Church, Love and Faith Ministries, the Pentecostal Church of God, and the Salvation Army.
INTEGRAL TO POLICE PLAN
Bailey, who took up the position of Area Two commander earlier this month, insists that churches are an integral element of the police's plan to target criminals because their reach is both influential and extensive. He said: "The churches are very important because if you look at the churches in the area, you have family members who are victims and perpetrators of crime.
"If we can get them to buy into the programme, they will go back to their churches with a message that can reach victims and perpetrators of crime. We want a zero-tolerance approach to crime and to harden ourselves against those who seek to perpetrate. We want to say to them: 'We're not going to tolerate this, and if we know who you are, we are going to expose you.'
"We want the Church and the citizens to become sensitive to the reality and impact of crime because it's only a few people who benefit. Although the family of the perpetrators may get some easy money, at the end of the day, it's not worth it, and that's the message we are trying to bring across. Crime is a developmental issue and a societal problem. It's not just a problem for the police, it's a problem for everybody, and we need people to understand that they have a role to play."