In recent months, the country has been trying to come to terms with the last administration’s economic quagmire, and how to get out of it with belt-tightening and sacrifice.
Over the last two weeks in particular, the pain of austerity hit home for scores of families as layoffs began. Anxiety has no doubt spread across state-owned enterprises as management served notice of job cuts to come.
Government, trade unions and the private sector have been in the spotlight as pundits grade, chastise and analyze their performance.
This is as it should be. Barbados’ recovery requires that key stakeholders and all ideas contend to help engineer a sustainable turnaround.
Are we not constantly reminded by no lesser person than the Prime Minister herself, that “many hands make light work”?
One voice, which cannot afford to be muted during this difficult period is the Church’s.
Though an increasingly secular society, Barbados is still regarded as religious and many still expect guidance from the Church on critical issues.
We accept that the Church on a weekly basis will deliver spiritual direction and other meaningful services to its members, but in the current circumstances the wider society deserves even more.
The Church’s helping hand cannot be restricted to within its four walls.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” reads the famous poet John Donne. His maxim is as true for institutions as it is for individuals.
Churches, as well as governments, depend on members’ commerce and economic activity for their ongoing maintenance and support.
In the current circumstances, therefore, it is the Church’s business to respond with practical plans to reshape its ministry and mission to meet the society’s needs.
The Church must be an institution to which people can turn to for solutions, especially since neither politicians nor technocrats have all the answers.
We normally hear the church loud and clear on moral and cultural issues – the gay rights agenda, the death penalty, abortion, gambling and the like.
Now is time for action in the economic sphere, too.
An equally loud voice and strong arm are needed to provide guidance and support for retrenched workers, their families and the society at large as we embark on the road to recovery.
Indeed, being unemployed is enough to tax anyone’s faith.
In many communities across Barbados, people will be in need, and it cannot be left only to the Government to meet all these demands.
Churches can make a big difference. Most churches already know and engage their communities and have the talent and resources in their congregations to undertake a mission to reach out and help to change lives for the better.
Yes, people will require money, clothing, food, shelter, But the Church can open its doors to teach skills – cooking classes, dressmaking, backyard gardening, tiling, budgeting, parenting, and the like.
It can also provide sound guidance on how to live within one’s means and how to simply love our neighbours by serving them better.
We believe that simple initiatives like these can more easily demonstrate that the Church is still relevant and has a leading role to play in our community.