GG asks for religious support
A recent headline read: “Teen shot to death”. The story spoke of police shooting and killing a teenage boy suspected of an armed robbery in eastern New Providence, who was later confirmed by education officials as a 10th grade student at R.M. Bailey Senior High School. One day after the incident, Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling, in her Speech from the Throne at the Opening of Parliament, said the government proposed to enlist religious communities to assist in reawakening and reestablishing national values as a persistent, ongoing and ever-growing effort.
“With an eye to the future, we fervently ask for the support of our religious community in bringing an increasing number of our young people, and especially our young Bahamian men, back to becoming fully engaged members of our spiritual communities. We must intervene to save our youth, for this time is indeed, and especially, the younger people’s time,” said Dame Marguerite.
It was a one-paragraph statement that Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander took note of. He said he was pleased the government was willing to work in conjunction with the church toward building a healthy, moral conscience in society.
“The council took note of the speech [Wednesday] and was pleased to note the government’s effort to work in conjunction with the church and look forward to working together to building the young people of the country, and a healthy moral conscience in our society,” said Fernander, who has held the Christian Council’s top post for one month.
“The Bahamas Christian Council thanks the government for its commitment to partner with the church through grants and faith-based initiatives. We as a council last year made a number of trips to study how States like Atlanta and Washington were able to collaborate with ecumenical councils to change gun violence and literacy in their inner city communities. To this end we have agreed to join with Reverend Ricardo Miller, out of Texas, to host a national children’s ministry day in October with a view to bringing in trainers and teams to build strong children’s ministries in our churches.”
Fernander said the Christian council has also partnered with American Baptist College alumni to host a lecture breakfast on June 3. At the breakfast, the college’s president, Forrest Harris, will lecture on the church and social justice; anyone interested in attending is invited.
Dame Marguerite’s address came as Fernander, who just stepped up to the top post, promised a Christian council that is visible and action-oriented.
In an earlier interview with The Nassau Guardian, Fernander said the Christian council exists to help, and that people will feel and see this as the council brings together and works with all of the entities to ensure this happens.
“Churches have doors all over The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and we have the ability to open them — to provide services that government cannot provide. And so you’re going to see a more visible church presence in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said.
One of his immediate goals, he said, will focus on the council’s relevance.
Fernander, who is also senior pastor at New Destiny Baptist Cathedral, Carmichael Road, said he would do his best, in collaboration with tertiary education avenues, to provide new forums and partner with existing ones to bring theological positions to the forefront when it comes to the issues.
“Some positions that maybe we need to wrestle with in public so that you can know that these aren’t positions that are not thought of… that are not planned, or not researched before the council puts it before the nation.”
The Speech from the Throne also fits in with Fernander’s long-term goal, which is to see the council as a place where it can really give “meaningful input” in some of the directions of lawmaking and national planning from a Christian perspective.
Fernander, who is at the beginning of his first three-year term at the helm, said the council would not try to force its views on people.
“We’re not trying to force our views on people, but we’re just one of the avenues that can give intelligent output to what we’re trying to do as a nation,” he said.
Fernander said the Christian council speaks directly to the consciousness of the nation, and he believes he can lend his expertise in some of the areas of social justice and areas of academics to strengthen the council to plan more visible and meaningful events that can help develop the direction the country is going in.
The bishop emphasizes a Christ-centered message of deliverance and restoration for every man.
Heading into the May 10 general election, the council chief had said he stood in the scripture.
“Proverbs 16:33 tells us that all of us have our opportunity to make our motion, to do our vote, but these things are in the hands of the Lord. And so, in the view of the council, obviously we as a nation take this stuff [election] seriously, and we are excited about it — and we should be. And we should enjoy it, but we should also be respectful that everybody may not have the same opinion or party, but they are entitled to that, and that’s why we work so hard on a democracy. A democracy says everybody’s vote is important. So, as a people and as a council, we ask that we take this seriously and that we stop defaming the character of each other, and let’s do the business of nation building. And after we’ve done our vote on May 11, let’s work together with whomever God has allowed to be our prime minister and our new government to build this country.”
With the new government installed, Fernander said the Christian council joined with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis in the building and lifting of a “new, progressive Bahamas” that the Bahamian people voted for overwhelmingly.
“As in all things, the Christian shout remains — to God be the glory for the great things He has done!”
The Christian council chief was also thankful that the election process, for the most part, had been conducted peacefully, to which he gave God the glory. And he said they were “obliged to warn”, as did the prophets of old, that “woe be to each and every should who would in the aftermath of successful elections, allow themselves to submit to the allures and fever of vengeance”.
He said victory should not be used as a means and pretext for victimization and abuse — by word or deed — toward any of God’s children who voted ,or have been perceived to have voted contrary to them.
“We are obliged to rail and cry against any and all who would, if given the opportunity, make false charges against their fellow Bahamians. And most of all, we would be obliged to cry against the callous destruction of the careers and or career paths of public servants.”
Fernander said he hoped this would not be attributed to the new government.
“We should be up and doing the building and lifting of a new progressive Bahamas that the Bahamian people voted for overwhelmingly. As in all things, the Christian shout remains — to God be the glory for the great things He has done,” he said.
The Christian council was established in 1943 with the purpose of encouraging stronger family relationships among the war veterans; promoting an understanding and trust between the various churches in the country; witnessing to the Christian community; providing moral and spiritual leadership for the Christian community; and partnering with government agencies and non-governmental organizations in promoting unity and harmony against the citizenry.
“We’re really an organization that was first constituted simply to speak to governments about positions. Positions were brought to the council and they were asked the opinion of the heads of denominations. Our constitution helps us realize that we are really to promote Christian values in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said Fernander.
He said he hoped the council would not only have a national impact, but a community one as well. And as he took on this new role, he said he understood that traditional borders sometimes have to be broken in order to impact people of different backgrounds, cultures and denominations.
“The work of the council must be seen and felt in as many lives as possible. And through love and support, the lives of hurting people will be improved,” he said.