Monsignor Vincent Blackett, Chairman, Barbados Christian Council
Let me begin by wishing all Christians and especially those who are in fellowship with the Barbados Christian Council and all Barbadians, those who are not Christians but join with us in extending Peace and Good Will to people especially those who are poor.
The Barbados Christian Council grew out of the concern for the deprived members of our society. Fifty years ago, five of the major Christian Churches in Barbados, the Anglican Churches led by Bishop Lewis Evans, the Roman Church headed by the Vicar General The Very Rev Fr. Lewis Thompson, the Methodist Church led by The Rev Derek Lyder, the Moravian Church led by The Rev Cyril Aldersley and the Salvation Army headed by Lieutenant Major Leonard Gamblin and inspired by the wind of change that was sweeping the Christian world, came together to see how the churches in Barbados can assist the most vulnerable people in our Society.
This new initiative was inspired by the World Council of Churches and by Pope John XX111, who had recently called the Bishops of the world together to see how the Catholic Church should respond to the modern world. One of the most challenging and haunting statements coming from the Vatican Council is – The joys and the hopes and the sorrows of the people of our times are the joys and the hopes and the sorrows of the church. This statement, almost 50 years later, is as relevant as it was then.
With the serious economic decline in the world and with the rise in crime and wars, the sorrows of the peoples of our times have increased and we are witnessing this in Barbados. In Barbados today, there are many unemployed people and the promise of further layoffs.
Here in Barbados we have witnessed a rise in crime and the abuse of drugs and some serious sexual abuses. We have also witnessed more young women engaging in prostitution. This situation is of great concern for the churches in Barbados and this calls for an even greater effort of dialogue and collaboration amongst the churches.
Christmas is not a time for preaching doom and gloom, it is a time for being positive; for the church it is a time when we celebrate God’s presence in our midst. The words we here at this time are: “The word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”
We also hear: “He is Emmanuel – God with us.”
There are many positive and hopeful signs that remind us that God is in our midst. There are many governmental and non-governmental agencies working for the improvement of life in the community. There are many young people across this island who are working for a better Barbados and they must be commended.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the many young people in the City who are working against all odds to make a difference. I am particularly happy with the work of the footballers who gave of their time to assisting those most in need. I wish on behalf of thousands of people to thank you for your gift to the of the City.
My hope is that as a nation we will be able to ride out the present economic situation and as the churches approach the 50th anniversary of dialogue and collaboration that God would grant us the courage to deepen that dialogue and engage in further actions on behalf of the deprived peoples of our nation.