Spiritual intervention: Manchester leaders pray for parish, country
Though Manchester has recorded a 48 per cent reduction in murders since the start of the year, according to police reports, there are now increased calls for greater reliance on prayer to remedy the moral decline and consistent issues of criminality in the parish.
Dozens of civic leaders, political representatives, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and churches across several denominations gathered at the New Beulah Moravian Church on Wednesday for a special day of prayer under the theme ‘Manchester Under Attack…Prayer to the Rescue’.
The initiative, spearheaded by the custos of the parish, Garfield Green, is in an effort, he said, to rid the country of the challenges caused by misdirected citizens who have lost respect for themselves and others.
Commanding Officer of the Manchester Police, Gary Francis, told The Gleaner that among the greatest challenges being faced in the parish is domestic violence.
Two of the most recent issues involve an incident in the Greenvale community, where a man was dismembered following an altercation with his brother and mother.
Reports are that the complainant had a dispute with his mother when his brother intervened and used a machete to chop at his head.
In blocking the blow, the complainant raised his hand in the direction of the machete and lost four of his fingers.
Just a week later, on June 25, a homicide involving two brothers was reported.
According to the police, a man had a dispute with his brother, Minel Anderson, 61, at their home in the Montpelier community, over one cooking in the hallway where another was sleeping.
The reports are that an argument escalated and a knife and machete were brought into play and Minel was seen moments later running from the house, bleeding and signalling that his brother has stabbed him.
He was taken to the Mandeville Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The accused has since turned himself into the police and remains in custody.
Francis said domestic violence has plagued the parish for years and requires a holistic approach with all hands on deck.
“Domestic [violence] is still a major concern, but we are doing some work around that.”
He said there has been a 21 per cent reduction in shootings, 14 per cent reduction in rape, 54 per cent reduction in aggravated assault, and 13 per cent reduction in break-ins.
However, robberies, he said, have been increased by 54 per cent since the start of the year, but is being tackled with new prevention strategies implemented by the police.
Member of Parliament for North East Manchester Audley Shaw, who attended the prayer service, said we have a crisis of falling standards in Jamaica.
Shaw, who acknowledged his own struggles in his early years, having been raised in a poor household, believes that one’s unfortunate circumstances should never lead them into a life of illegal activities.
“You don’t have to be rich to upload and maintain high standards. High standards don’t come from money, but from upbringing, character, decency and respect for human life.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police for Area 3, Michael Smith, who endorsed the initiative, said the division has also adopted a similar method -using spirituality to help guide their operations, with special prayer session scheduled every Wednesday of each week within the division.