'Religion is the biggest problem facing the church'
Of all the spiritual and secular problems currently facing the people of St Mary, Shana-Kay Witter believes the myriad of vague and oftentimes conflicting views held by Christians throughout the parish to be the most dangerous.
Speaking with Family and Religion earlier this month, the bubbly teacher from Bonny Gate insisted that the problem is compounded by pastors who sometimes inject their own agendas and opinions into sermons, which can confuse churchgoers.
Witter said: "I honestly believe that religion itself is the biggest issue facing the people of St Mary right now because there are too many contradicting views on what people believe religion is and what it should be.
"There are over 200 different church denominations in this parish, and if you were to visit every one, they would all have a different view as to what they think is right, wrong, normal, and how things should be done.
"I'm not sure how this is going to change, but I think the greatest thing would be for people to read their Bibles and go by with what the Bible says. Christianity believes the Bible is the official book that tells you what you are supposed to be doing, based on past experiences," said Witter.
"So if you read the Bible and go by what the Bible says, rather than what the pastor of a particular church says, we would all be okay because it's not like there are several printouts with contradicting views, there is only one printout. The contradictions come with the interpretation because people go ahead and pick out a few points, which they then twist and turn into their own thing."
As a teacher, Witter is hopeful the younger generation will learn how to avoid the mistakes their progenitors made, and she believes that adults can learn much by observing children and adopting their youthful innocence and humility.
She explained: "My favourite scripture in the Bible is Matthew 19:14, which says: 'But Jesus said: "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven"' because as a teacher, that's a verse I come across on a daily basis.
"It's relevant and important to me because they say the eyes of a child sometimes may see clearer than those of an adult, so if the Supreme Being says, 'Suffer little children and forbid them not,' it really means all of us.
"So if we should take ourselves in consideration to the Supreme Being and just humble ourselves and come to Him, everything will work out and be okay, and we wouldn't have as much violence and so many of the sinful things that we see happening around us."