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The Church as a nation builder

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19.MAY.06

Editor: Many people knock the government. Few people knock the Church. This is unfair, because the Church is the senior partner in the kingdom of God on earth. The government is the junior partner.

Historically, they have refrained from knocking each other because that could generate friction and heat and the blows can become concussive. The relationship has been at its best when they have remained separate, but equal, with the Church as the first among equals.{{more}}

Many feel that the Church has failed Vincentian society by speaking with an uncertain voice or no voice at all. Sometimes the Church can be so heavenly minded that it is no earthly good. It may have a secure spiritual footing and have a weak social grasp, or no grasp at all.

If it is to maintain its relevance in our times, the Church must transform itself into an institution that is concerned not only with the spiritual faculty, but with the mental and physical as well. The word “soul” in the creation story, refers to the entire person, with all of its faculties and not to some ethereal entity capable of independent existence.

The Founder of the Christian Church spent two-thirds of his time attending to the physical needs of people and only one-third of it in preaching. St. Francis of Assisi had the right idea when he said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

The Church can play a major role in helping SVG prepare for the coming meltdown. It has a captive audience every weekend and often in the middle of the week, when it can influence the thinking and direction of a broad cross-section of the population.

It has a cadre of capable leaders whom many consider to be mere spectators. The time-worn tradition of refraining from criticizing its secular partner (the State), does not mean that it cannot vocally promote virtue and integrity in society at large and even in government. It certainly does not prevent it from mobilizing resources at its command to give Vincentians a greater share in the good life here on earth. It is not enough to direct our attention to a pie in the sky, while others seek to pluck us like live chickens forbidden to squawk.

The Christian Church could morph into a creative think tank that uses its international connections to facilitate technology transfers and financing to enable Vincentians who want to work to find jobs. It could be a terribly daunting task to preach to hungry bellies.

The Council could form implementation committees to implement its concrete initiatives throughout the country. It could opt to create a separate body as the think tank, including Vincentians at home and abroad.

One project that the Christian Council can implement, even before the hard times arrive, is providing food for the poor whom we have seen raiding garbage cans for scraps, right here in our nation’s capital. For them the hard times are already here. It has also come for those who must beg for a dollar at a time to put food in their stomachs.

My suggestion is that the Council launch a massive drive to encourage Vincentians to fast one day each week and donate their food money to the Christian Council to feed the hungry. The money could be used to pay for retired and voluntary workers to cook nutritious meals daily, for those who cannot afford it. The distribution can start at strategic locations in the capital and be duplicated in the rest of the country.

The day of fasting will have therapeutic advantages for a population that is rapidly becoming overweight, diabetic and hypertensive. The life we save could be our own.

Clifford Pitt

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