JOHN HOLDER, the archbishop of the West Indies, is appealing to the church community to make a difference even as violence and social decay increase and family values are seemingly less important than in former years.
"We need to have a voice as well in relation to the adverse economic conditions that have enveloped the world," Holder said while addressing the opening service of the 38th Triennial Synod of the Church in the Province of the West Indies at the St James Parish Church in Montego Bay, on Sunday.
"In this context, the Church must be a voice of hope."
"We represent a significant voice in this region, a voice that we must ensure is heard," continued Holder.
"It is first of all a voice of hope. It proclaims the good news, ever conscious of the many things, the many experiences, that are threats to the good news, but we proclaim the God of hope."
The weeklong synod is being held under the theme, 'The Quality of Life - Challenges and Response', and is being attended by clergy and lay representatives from the eight dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean. A range of social issues impacting the region is being explored, including the role of the Church and strategies to be employed to counter the steady emergence of anti-Church trends.
Sunday's plenary session featured a presentation by Professor Brian Meeks, director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, and nephrologist Dr Curtis Yeates.
The event will close on Friday with the Service of Consecration of the new Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, the Venerable Leon Golding. He will be succeeding the Rev Dr Howard Gregory who was installed as the Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in May.