Churches march in silence for peace
Hundreds of people, including clergy, politicians and representatives of various groups, walked together in silence last Friday night to express a sincere wish for peace in âHairounâ, home of the blessed.
The ecumenical service and candlelight walk, organized by the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption, as a response to the increase in violent crimes here, saw representation from heads of churches of other Christian denominations, including the Evangelical, Spiritual Baptist, Methodist and Anglican churches.
Parliamentarians, including Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker, Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday, Minister of Education St Clair Prince and Minister of Social Development Frederick Stevenson, indicated their support of the initiative by their presence at the mass, held at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
âThis situation is causing a lot of pain, anxiety and fear in our land and this is a cause for concern for all of us. There is too much shedding of innocent blood in our land,â said Bishop Gerard County of the Roman Catholic Church, to a packed congregation.
County said those present were there to take action.
âToday, we have not come to hide our heads in the sand about the crime and violence in our country; we have come to pray.â
The Bishop advised those present to remember the greatest commandment of all, to love one another, and to continue doing their best in the roles and jobs they already undertake. He said their presence at the mass was an indication that they already knew what they must do.
âOur presence together here is a sign and stance against crime and violence…. [It] expresses our desire to work together to resolve this situation. Our presence here expresses loudly that we want peace; we are saying no to crime and violence.â
He called on those involved in crime to repent.
âWe call on our fellow brothers and sisters who have opted for a lifestyle of crime to repent, and be reconciled with God,â further saying that the response cannot be an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth.
County also addressed the victims of violence and their families, asking them to turn to God for healing for their pain and loss.
Finally, turning to the figureheads in society, the Bishop stated, âWe express our hope once again, that all sectors of our society, parliamentarians, government and opposition, police and protective services, the judiciary, churches, all Vincentians, will collaborate for a loving peaceful and blessed St Vincent and the Grenadines.â
The Bishopâs sentiments were echoed in the prayers offered by the heads of other churches.
Praying for the nation, Elvin Peters, of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, asked for repentance.
âWe pray that you would speak to the hearts and minds of men, women and children, all over…that they would repent, O God. Repent, father, where repentance is needed and turn to you, Lord.â
Pastor Terence Haynes, of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, in praying for political leaders, asked that they would understand the depth of the role they play.
âWe understand that in our colloquial saying, shoulder canât rise above head….We understand that that implies that our leaders need to set the pace, not only in envisioning for a nation, but also in conduct for its people.â
Following this, two lines were formed and the silent procession began, which saw the faithful walking up Wilson Hill, through the dark, silent streets of Paulâs Lot, and twice past the music and noise of Heritage Square on a Friday night.
In a release issued yesterday, the Roman Catholic Diocese expressed its thanks to all who attended.
âWe thank all who participated in any way… the pastors and the faithfulâ¦from the different churches…..the parliamentary representatives…the police.. the mediaâ¦those who came from Bequia and Sandy Bay deserve special mention.â
As at November 20, there had been 38 homicides in St Vincent and the Grenadines for 2017.(KR)