Today we wish to take a look at the very apparent disconnect between the church and “the people” from two perspectives, the first being the just concluded Crop-Over Festival.
It would appear that some of the loudest voices in the church community would wish that that institution, and anyone associated with it, would stay far from Crop-Over and anything we call culture. We do not understand why because the same church speaks of the total being — mind, body and soul.
It would also appear that those who purport to speak for the church believe that every act of rowdyism displayed by anyone during the annual festival is perfect proof that Crop-Over is inspired by the devil and anyone who associates with it is also of the devil.
The problem with this argument is that the events which “spoil” the festivities from time to time are not restricted to June, July and the start of August, but afflict our society all year round. Certainly, vulgarity is not exclusive to Crop-Over, neither is excessive drinking or public “wukking up”.
But even if they were, is the church’s mission to, like Pontius Pilate, wash its hands of involvement with those who engage in “evil” acts? Or is there a greater injunction to “go ye into the world” and convert sinners so they may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The problem we have is that we can’t help but get the impression that when our church leaders speak out against Crop-Over and seek to distance themselves from it, it is not out of fear for the safety of their members, or even that rather than converting from the world they would be converted to the world, but a distasteful show of self righteousness that ought not to be displayed by anyone who calls himself or herself Christian.
The episode involving one of our most flamboyant church leaders that led veteran calypsonian Adrian AC Clarke to pen and sing an entire song about her and the conduct of the church during the Pic-O-De-Crop final does nothing to assist the church in furthering its mission. It was in our view another example of pitiful self-righteousness by someone who ought to know better.
If our people need moral guidance and the church supposedly washes its hands of involvement with them, where is the guidance suppose to come from? We are told of churches and church leaders who deliberately plan “retreats” for the final weekend of Crop-Over to take themselves and their members as far away from the “sinners” as they can get. Again we ask: Does that fit into the mission of the church?
Quite frankly, “retreat” might be the most appropriate word for describing their approach to Crop-Over and Kadooment. It may also aptly describe how effective they are with their mission.
Perhaps, many of our church leaders have not recognised it, but human nature is such that when people feel slighted or dismissed, when they feel disregarded on any front, they are highly unlikely to take you seriously when you approach them seeking to “save” their souls.
And this brings us to our second point on the church’s disconnect. Yesterday the holder of one of the most influential offices in the modern day Christendom arrived in Barbados. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, and by extension the world wide Anglican community, arrived to a VIP welcome from the leadership of the local church, and later had dinner with the British High Commissioner and the Archbishop of the West Indies.
His programme today included courtesy calls on the Governor General, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs and lunch at Sandy Lane Country Club. Tonight he was due to attend Eucharist at Christ Church Parish Church.
We may be wrong, but does this not sound like a visit by a foreign Government leader? Isn’t church about the people? So where are the people in all of this? Except for the security aspect, is this any different from visits to Barbados by then United States presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton?
Then again, maybe the church has been right all along in its approach: Just let the people wuk-up in peace on Kadooment Day!