A nation's cry for healing
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
IF THE massive throng of persons who poured into Portmore, St Catherine, is any signal of Jamaicans' desire for healing of families and nation, then yesterday's message to Church and State was resounding.
On a day when many would be on the job, thousands streamed into the seaside tabernacle of the Bishop Delford Davis-led Power of Faith Ministries to 'Heal the Family, Heal the Nation'.
Their voices thundered in worshipful unison as they clamoured with religious fervour for a fresh wind that would herald positive change in a nation bedevilled by woes.
Infectious harmony prevailed, as church officials from the gamut of denominations and political leaders seemed to strike a chord with ordinary Jamaicans.
But there was no doubt that the memory of a challenging past year still lingered in the minds of those in attendance.
Pastor Errol Wright, a long-standing church leader in Portmore, led the church leaders from a multiplicity of denominations at the event which enjoyed the full blessing of the Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches.
Wright urged public leaders to own up to offences they have committed as they kick-start the healing process.
Earlier, Fitz Jackson, member of parliament for South St Catherine, lamented that he had to bear the weight of unreasonable accusations when he has never been individually accused of any corrupt act as a politician.
He urged church leaders to be direct instead of vague and ambiguous in their statements on national issues.
But there were unmistakable indications that by their pronouncement, Church and State share a common desire.
Even those on different sides of the political divided seemed united by a common cause.
Reach out to communities
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen urged church leaders to reach beyond their congregation into communities.
"I encourage the Church, which is the embodiment of Christ, to be the beacon of hope," he declared in a sobering message conveyed by custos of St Catherine, the Reverend Sophia Azan.
Sir Patrick noted that the event coincided with the challenges which accompany troubling times for Jamaican families, characterised by single units, absent fathers, crime and violence and widespread disregard for the rules of law and order.
He said the root cause of the range of woes bedevilling the nation was the breakdown in values.
However, the spirit of optimism which oozed from the worshipping throng seemed to have an effect on Sir Patrick's message as he expressed confidence of a better tomorrow, once the nation seeks God's face.
Deputy Prime Minister Dr Kenneth Baugh, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Bruce Golding, readily acknowledged that 2010 was a hugely challenging year.
"We leave behind a year of great turmoil and much pain and suffering."
Both Golding and Baugh had to face the wrath of the nation, including the Church, in 2010 as the Government wrestled with whether former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke should be extradited to the United States.
A bloody incursion, which left at least 73 Jamaicans dead and a nation numbed with grief, did not help the embattled administration.
But yesterday, Baugh's message injected hope into the riveted congregation.
He noted that despite the travails encountered in the past year, the Golding administration had made important strides in stabilising the economy.
However, Baugh lamented that there were still too many children languishing without adequate care due to errant mothers and wandering fathers.
The deputy prime minister also cited the dire effects of global warming, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, desertification and other acts of nature which have sent the world out of kilter.
"We cannot resolve these myriad challenges without unity and collective action," suggested Baugh.
"This has to be done with a recommitment to do something about our country, our community, the socialisation of our children and the moulding of their character from pregnancy to adulthood."
In a spirited display which had the congregation rocking and waiving, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller said: "If we can heal the family, then we can fix the nation."
In a message which was interspersed with scripture verses, she added: "As Christians, you have a fulcrum, a lever and a place to stand. Faith is your fulcrum, love is the lever and Christ is the place to stand."
Mayor of Portmore Keith Hinds was bubbling with optimism that 2011 would be a year of prosperity.
"But with prosperity comes responsibility; the men of this country need to pull up their socks," he declared.