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Thursday, 14 March 2013 02:30
By Delana Isles
Antigua St. John's - Responding to appeals from both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, the league of churches in Antigua & Barbuda has organised two days of prayer to be observed across the twin-island state this weekend, and a prayer convention next Wednesday.
Chairman of the Planning Committee of Church Leaders, Bishop Kenneth Richards, told the media yesterday that they are hoping to get everyone - from churches, homes, and anywhere else – to come together this weekend and pray for the country and the crime wave which seems to have permeated the society.
He said independently, church leaders have been meeting and discussing what can be done to help the country, but what will take place this weekend and at next Wednesday’s symposium, to be held at the Antigua Recreation Grounds at 4 pm, is in response to calls from the PM and the opposition that something should be done through the church.
“This weekend we are going to be having two days of prayer, so the churches that worship on Saturdays would include in their worship services a prayer for the nation, and those that worship on Sunday would do the same, and that would be a lead-up to what will take place on Wednesday,” Richards said.
Wednesday has been designated a national day of fasting, prayer and worship.
The church leaders are also planning a symposium with all major stakeholders, which, Bishop Richards said, will be a roundtable discussion to analyze the crime situation in the country and map a way forward.
He added that they are hoping to call upon God and to bring inspiration to the hearts of the people as to how the situation at hand can be redressed with God’s help.
“One of our concerns is value formation, so we have to look at the values that people hold and how that impacts on how they engage other people in regards to respect for life, respect for self, and the dignity of persons,” the bishop said.
He said those are some of the areas where they recognise there might be a gap when it comes to people operating.
“This does not negate the responsibility that government and the security forces have with respect to addressing the social problems and that which needs to mitigate the social crisis like the increase in violence,” he noted.
Bishop Richards said there are other stakeholders who can provide economic opportunities to help mitigate the problem, but the church recognises its responsibility to teach and be an inspiration to the people of the nation.
He stated that church ministers are hoping to collaborate with the Ministry of Education for a programme in public schools across the country.
The bishop expressed the hope that this initiative will plant the seed of principles and values that should be part of development of the nation’s children.
“Especially in our public schools, we question the intensity and magnitude with which that is attended to in the formation of our children,” he said. He added that they are holding out a lot of hope, particularly on the school programme, because they believe it will have a far-reaching effect on the nation.
The bishop added that the leaders are hoping to get the support of the minister so that they can go into the schools and have classroom sessions with students. He also hopes to be able to hold these activities on a regular basis so that the series of activities will not just be a one-shot affair.
He added that instituting social programmes is very important within society to help with the crime situation.
Acknowledging the challenging economic times, the bishop said that it is the responsibility of the government to govern and to identify those social and economic programmes that they need to establish to ameliorate the situation before people become desperate, so that the alternative is provided for them for personal survival.