Thu | Dec 3, 2020

We are not silent! - Pastor says church is doing work, just not blowing its own trumpet

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

And though these are days of great trial,

Of famine and darkness and sword,

Still, we are the voice in the desert crying

'Prepare ye the way of the Lord!'

- Days of Elijah by Robin Mark

The rise in murders, especially with those of our children, has caused many to be questioning the silence of the Church.

Clarendon, too, has had more than its fair share of murders, prompting former commander for the Clarendon division Senior Superintendent of Police Fitz Bailey to invite the Errol Rattray Evangelist Association's Operation Hope initiative in the parish.

With the new surge in murders, it begs the question if the programme failed and the effectiveness of the Church in all of this.

Family and Religion reached out to president of the May Pen Ministers' Fraternal, Pastor Garry Knowles, on the issue.

"I would want to begin by disagreeing with the view that interventions such as Operation Hope are of no impact, as the police statistics would show that crime and violence in the Operation Hope areas decreased, albeit for a short period of time," he said.

Knowles said the initiatives of the Church can work and are working to stem the tide of crime, but he points out that these initiatives have to be sustainable - a drawback he said affected Operation Hope.




"The Church, I believe is doing something; and certainly, while I may agree with the view that there is more we can do, I wouldn't readily say the Church is doing nothing. The Church is not like other institutions that blow its own trumpets each time it carries out initiatives for those who are de-humanised, and one always has to remember that the Church is about liberation not dependency, so our ongoing ministries may not be recognised and/or appreciated as the quick-fix so many long for," points out Knowles.

Acknowledging that the Church could probably do more, he reminds that the Church's own resources are limitless "because we serve a God who is omniscient".

"However, we must never assume that to stem crime and violence is a one-solution-to-fix-all-problems situation, but understand that life with its problems is complex, and many times, it is after solving one issue that more arise. The Church, by its very name and nature, will always stand resolute in helping the marginalised," he said.

Addressing the notion that some Christians in the parish are running scared allowing crime to cripple the ministry, Knowles said the Church does not have the capacity to be scared.

"When I pass the churches on a Sunday, whether in the morning or evening, their doors are still open, persons are still coming out. When I check with my fellow colleagues in the fraternal, they are still continuing their outreach ministries and adding to them on a monthly, yearly basis," he said, sharing that the Church stands ready in partnering with other agencies to tackle crime and violence in communities.

"We have been on community walks with the police in some of these communities. In one of area, the Fraternal met persons who were fearful and showed signs of depression; some persons were angry because they felt that their leaders had abandoned them. Prayer was held with many of these persons and a promise to support whatever community development is in place to help stop the crime and violence. Some were even counselled because of how traumatised they were," shared Knowles.




In defending the Church against being silent, Knowles said the family, like the Church and school, is a valuable stakeholder of the community.

"It is no secret that the family is the basic unit of the community and the first place where many values, morals and attitudes are learnt. So if there is one institution that can make a significant and positive impact on crime and violence, it is the family," he said, pointing out that a deterrent to this is the loss of identity and a neglect of responsibility in nation building.

Knowles said there is a need for families to remember and reclaim its identity and responsibility which is to the shaping of individuals and lives in service to their community.

"The May Pen Ministers' Fraternal is aware and conscious of the growing concern of crime and violence, especially in Clarendon. As a matter of fact, it is a permanent item on our agenda at meetings as we grapple with the issues. The Fraternal continues to partner with other institutions that have the same concerns as us to fight this monster of crime and violence and to see or communities become places where its residents are comfortable," he noted.