It was a night of praise and worship when the Church of God of Prophecy opened its 23rd regional biennial Convention at Solidarity House last night.
Members from Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines joined their local counterparts and other church officials for the three-day event, which is being held under the theme United as One.
It started with performances of song and dance from each of the islands, followed by a near 45-minute praise and worship session by choir members from the four countries.
Also among last night’s congregation were Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde – who is also responsible for ecclesiastical affairs – and Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley.
Mottley reminded the church members of the importance of coming together and sharing fellowship and “resetting the mission”.
She said: “Even though we are committed, there are times when we need to pause and to refocus what is the mission.
“And I am even more comforted by the fact that even as we, on our parallel journeys… are motivated by the recognition that that which we can do on our own dwarfs in comparison to that which we can do together as one.”
Mottley also pointed to the need to uphold principles and values as Barbados continues with the task of nation building.
“In order to be able to say to the people of Barbados that before we can get to the programmes and the promises, what matters first are the principles and the values.
“And I therefore speak to you tonight conscious that irrespective of whether we walk on the path of the State or whether we walk in pursuit of the works of the Lord, that principles and values matter.
“And I don’t say so idly because for too many it is easy to abandon principle when it becomes inconvenient or difficult to adhere.
“But principles only mean something when it is inconvenient to stand by them.
“Does it mean that there are times therefore when we will be found wanting? Yes. But it is not ours to be divine, it is ours to be faithful to the divine.”
Minister Forde also brought a message of unity, adding: “Unless we do it together, none of us in the world can go anywhere without putting God in front.”
Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley praised the church. He described it as “a powerful regional organisation that demonstrates unity to the extent that no other organisation has been able so to do”.
Atherley, who broke ranks with the BLP last year following the historic 30-0 victory at the polls to become Leader of the Opposition, also appealed to the congregation to embrace the role of politics in the development of society, despite their misgivings about politics and politicians.
“Politics is about a mix of power relations in the society.
“And it is the context of that power mix of relations in any society, in any country that policy is conceptualised, is formulated, it is even implemented.
“It is incumbent, absolutely and frighteningly incumbent upon the church that the church understands it becomes a part of that power mix because it is out of that policy comes which affects the lives of all of our people.”
But it was Atherley the priest and not the politician who stood before the congregation, when he told them that entering politics was part of his calling to serve.
He said: “So I prayerfully urge you to understand. Don’t say ‘I have nothing to do with politics, politicians are the worst people in the world’.
“If they are the worst people in the world then those are the people you need to confront and to mix with so that you make instruments of change in their lives.”
He added that politics will impact their lives and those of future generations and they should seek to understand the process.
Atherley said: “More than any other process in life it will impact your life and create your circumstances.
“You can go into your bedroom and you can close your door to politics, but politics will come uninvited into your bedroom and render you sleepless, or give you restful sleep.
“It will determine whether your children can be educated, whether they’re fed properly; where you live; what roof you have over you; it will come uninvited. Embrace it. Be an agent of change; make the system better; pray for our leaders.”