For a second consecutive Synod, Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd urged Anglicans to be more serious about worship and their living by being intentional about their discipleship in Christ, even more so with the theme for the past two years, “Intentional Discipleship”.
“Many of us already are, but more of us need to be,” said Boyd during his Charge to the 116th Session of Synod at the Synod Opening Eucharist held at Christ Church Cathedral. “Some of us are not as committed as we ought to be. We need more commitment – more visible evidence of a personal relationship with Jesus. People need to see Christ in us, imperfect as we are.
“Often, our lives, our behavior, our attitudes turn people off. But, my friends, Jesus calls us and depends on us to be what we ought to be. Take up the challenge today in your life, and let us show people that we are serious about God and our faith. It starts by the way that we live and treat people, and by the way we express our faith. The reputation of the whole church rests on how we act as individuals,” he said.
In the same token, Boyd held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives during Hurricane Dorian as he acknowledged the fact that restoration is a long road ahead of recovery. The moment of silence also extended to those who are not yet accounted for, as he called on the Lord to enfold them wherever they may be.
He also asked Anglicans to join him in observing a moment of silence in sympathy and compassion for those who were traumatized in any way; those who lost loved ones, stability, peace of mind and possessions.
During the Charge, he commented on a number of issues including migration; land distribution; spending; work ethic; crime in both The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands; immigration; reduction of taxes and/or customs duty on certain items for the Family Islands; the establishment of the office of ombudsman, an agency to look into complaints and to bring justice to the small person who is aggrieved; the long overdue freedom of information act; and the success of the diocese’s inaugural healing conference.
The Anglican bishop also took time to commend the government as well as public and private agencies and organizations who have worked and continue to work toward relief and restoration in the wake of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian on Abaco and Grand Bahama. He encouraged people to pull together and to work toward restoration.
“This storm had devastating effects which will take a long time to overcome. But we can overcome and rebuild if we persevere and support one another,” said Boyd.
He reported that the Anglican church, through the ministry of its clergy and parishes, was at the forefront of relief and care in both islands.
The bishop in his Charge touched on the hot-button topic of migration, which he had spoken to in previous charges, and reiterated once again that the country could very easily get a “black eye” from the international community if a valiant effort wasn’t made to get it right.
“The world will ‘mark the manner of our bearing’ in immigration matters, in particular,” said Boyd. He suggested that a board or authority be set up to monitor the handling of the extremely sensitive matter and added that at a time like this, such an entity is a necessity.
Boyd also urged Bahamians to stop saying that Haitians, in particular, come to The Bahamas and take while giving little or nothing to the country. It’s a statement that he said is simply not true.
“Whenever a person works or raises a family, that person adds value to a country, in return for which he/she receives certain things like well-being, goods and services. It is not an exaggeration to say that if we take the Haitian labor out of our country, The Bahamas would be all the poorer, because Haitians are contributing in every area you can think of.”
Boyd also spoke to being pleased that the Bahamian government had embarked on a process of land ownership through crown grants in some of the Family Islands, starting with the southern Bahamas.
“If we truly wish people to stay in the Family Islands, and not overcrowd New Providence, where land prices are rapidly climbing beyond the average person’s reach, then we have to give them a ‘piece of the rock’ in one of the islands.”
He encouraged the powers-that-be to do right by the people.
“We often give large acreages of prime land to foreign investors, how about doing something for our own people?”
The Anglican priest said land ownership gives people a special sense of pride and loyalty to country and local community.
At the same time, he urged people in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands to watch their spending and learn to live on less.
“We see it, we want it and we buy it,” said Boyd. “As one person I know likes to say … we spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like. This is insanity and it must stop. As the saying goes, live simply that others might simply live.”
He said this was of great significance post-Hurricane Dorian when so many people are hurting and when there has been a significant impact on the economies of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
The Anglican bishop also spoke to people’s poor work ethic at a time when they are competing in a hostile global environment which means that people have to continually sharpen their professional skills to improve their work ethic and overall people skills.
“Too many Bahamians and Turks and Caicos Islanders are lazy and have a poor work ethic,” charged Boyd. “We want something for nothing. We act like performing well on a job is doing the employer a favor. We want to make demands, but do not have the job attitude or work ethic to justify [the] same. Even in Hurricane Dorian, as other hurricanes, many of us in The Bahamas sat back and watched foreign relief workers do the dirty work. Often, foreign technical people outwork our technical people. Then, we get sensitive when people point this out – when investors say that it is too costly and not cost effective to do business here, and that a lot of Bahamian workforce leaves much to be desired. In many sectors we are seen as [a] high-priced, underperforming, prima donna attitude workforce. And we will push our own selves out of competitiveness if we are not careful.”
With tough times ahead for many, Boyd said with God’s help and the right attitude, people will make it.
Yet, with crime as the number one social issue in the country, in spite of the hardworking members of the law enforcement agencies, and while statistics, Boyd said, have shown that there have been improvements in several areas, the priest noted the improvement is not seen or felt across the board.
“The recent spate of murders and mass shootings over the past three weeks have left us all traumatized, and quite frankly, very frightened.
“A few years ago, when the murder count was over 100, it was due mainly to gang turf wars and retaliation. It is ill-advised to dismiss such acts as ‘oh let them kill up one another’. We must remember that they are all somebody’s children and persons for whom Christ died. What is very concerning to the average citizen, however, is the number of completely innocent people being shot or killed – and one such committed is too many. This instills fear in the population, especially when security officers are shot and home invasion and armed robberies result in death or serious injuries from gunshot.”
The Anglican priest urged that people work hard to find the root cause, and as a community, try their best to root it out.
“Let us be more vigilant in our neighborhoods and follow the preventive measures that the police force gives us all the time. Let’s report what we see and look out for our neighbors and for strangers. We have to prevail against this demon as a community and not allow the enemy the victory over us as law-abiding citizens.”
Boyd said the battle is not lost, and that everyone should keep fighting it.
He also said that crime is a major concern for the Turks and Caicos Islands as well, with 12 murders for the year. While he described the number as alarming, he said it was even more alarming to note that 95 percent of the murder victims were under the age of 30.
The Anglican bishop also spoke to their inaugural healing conference which he said provided a time of inspiration and encouragement for everyone that participated.
“We want the healing ministry of the church to grow and flourish, because the church has always been an agent of healing and restoration in the world, from New Testament times right on down to today.”