There is something fundamental to Barbadian life and it is that the majority of our young people between the ages of 16 years and 35 years are good, positive and actively engaged in character building activities.
It has become a norm when deviance among a subset of your youth seems to be rising to ask, ‘what is the Church doing about it’.
The Church, as the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) in the Church of the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) states, is the Body of Christ proclaiming the Kingdom of God as it prays, worships and promotes justice, peace and love.
Church members continuously call and invite persons to join in worship, praise and thanksgiving to God. We also seek to nurture new believers with our Christian Education programmes such as Confirmation Class, Sunday School and Bible Study.
The Church is the divine society that happens also to be a reality in the world and so is actively involved and engaged in the issues of the day, offering hope to the entire society.
In a conversation recently with another senior cleric the view was expressed that the Church is not in possession of a panacea for all of the ills in society, while acknowledging that we do have a prophetic duty to watch, warn and guide in all matters of concern and not simply when society feels as though it has reached a crisis point.
The challenge for Barbados is that many of us have ignored the voice of the Church and has pushed religion to the margins of their lives. We have moved away from our spiritual and moral moorings and some even proclaim that they have no religion, which arguably is their right.
We think that the answers to Barbados’ issues will come if we were to have more money, forgetting the words of Jesus: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
The religious tradition of Barbados is part of our spiritual heritage and culture, in which we find concern for the welfare of others, care for the vulnerable and value for life.
We as Church, faithful to our mission to proclaim the kingdom of God, often seek to come to the community’s aid until next time.
The social ordering of society must mean that all persons have the kind of education that will allow us to live in community and the Church has a major role to play in exposing persons to religion and the study of theology and spirituality.
John Henry Newman expressed the view that theology is a branch of knowledge and that “there is a real necessity for this teaching in the highest schools of intellect”.
In his book The Idea of a University, Newman states that if our students are to learn history, religious history must be a part of the curriculum and that if they are to learn literature, biblical literature ought to be covered as well.
It is important that we see religion and the study of theological concepts and the intelligent use of scripture not only for personal benefit, but for the good of community living.
If we are to stop the tide of violence among sections of our youth, we cannot simply rely on more severe policing, but rather take charge of ourselves and be more careful about violence in our speech and daily communication with each other.
We have a duty to:-
• avoid emotionally charged terms when we speak;
• bring the children to church (they can never be too young);
• ensure that God is a part our conversation at meal times and other times in our homes;
• set clear rules for behaviour in our households;
• be watchful over the young people in our homes;
• know the friends of the children;
• know the parents of our children’s’ friends.
This is not some magical formula, but simply the way in which the parents and grandparents in our lovely nation have brought up generations of Barbadians.
May God almighty stay the hands of those who would do harm and bless us as we seek peace, harmony and hope, especially at this blessed Eastertide.
(Canon Noel A. Burke is rector of the St David’s Church and chairman of the Barbados Christian Council.)