The new Bishop at the helm of the Methodist Church in the Southern Caribbean and the Americas Reverend Derick Richard this evening signalled his intention “to disturb the present” to ensure the church has a better future.
At a well-attended induction ceremony at the James Street Methodist Church, Richards, one of church’s youngest bishops to be appointed to the high office replaced the Reverend Dr Cuthbert Edwards.
The Vincentian-born Richard who became a pastor at the age of 19 told congregants it was time for the church to rise up and join in the healing work of God across the sub-region.
Citing several challenges including, “the rising national debt of our nation states in the sub-region, the high levels of violence and abuse, the rising addiction to pornography, drugs and gambling and deterioration in the moral fabric of our society,” he said such problems required the Methodist church to undergo a “serious theological reflection and a willingness to change as individuals, a church and as society.”
The Bishop warned that this healing work would involve taking positions that would not be popular.
“For instance, working to overcome a system that perpetuates its poverty might involve calling for a living wage that empowers people to provide for their needs without charity.
“Such a change can be threatening to people who benefit from the current wage structure in many of the islands. Yet we must ask is it fair to expect people to work full time at any job and not have enough to pay to live a dignified life?
Bishop Richard underscored that such challenges must be met by firm resolve to ensure that the church continues to be a significant voice and force in shaping the region.
The new Methodist leader who will oversee the churches in St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados also highlighted several internal changes the church would have to undergo to embark on its new mission.
He started by speaking directly to the youth, reminding them that there were not the church of tomorrow, but in reality the church of today.
“We need more of you, the church needs your energy, your transparency, your spiritual gift and graces, your professional skills, your natural talent and abilities, we need you to help us transform our world by igniting a passion.
“There is a place for you at the table, will you join us. I believe that as district we are ready not only to hear from you but also to act upon what we hear, he assured.
The Bishop also called for the Methodist church to be more “authentically Caribbean,” citing that the steel pan must not be an occasional accompaniment at worship. He also called for hymns written by Caribbean artists to be embraced with the traditional hymns.
Bishop Richard stressed these changes were critical to leaving a legacy for the next generation of Methodists and to touch every area of life in the sub-region.
“I am ready and I ask you to come along with me so that together we can fulfill the plan of God,” he said.