The Moravian Church has been hailed for its contribution to the post-Emancipation West Indies, as church leaders meet here for the synod of the church’s province in the Eastern Caribbean.
Addressing the opening service at Calvary Moravian Church last night, Prime Minister Mia Mottley pointed to the church’s efforts to secure education and employment opportunities for formerly enslaved people in the 1800s.
“Your church rose to the challenge of the day to understand that emancipated slaves could only appreciate freedom if they were capable first and foremost, of being educated, and secondly of being able to earn for themselves in an environment that was bitterly, bitterly opposed to their living.”
She noted the response of the church, particularly after the Located Labourers Act was passed after Emancipation in 1838. Under the law, workers remained bonded to the plantation and could only retain housing on estate lands by continued labour.
“But what did you church do? Your church made it its own business to create not just schools but to also train craftsmen, giving people the option, recognising fundamentally that freedom is about choice, and if you don’t give people options they don’t have the ability to make choices for themselves and their families,” she told the 32nd Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church Eastern West Indies Province.
On the issue of families, the Prime Minister said “we are losing the battle before our children reach 16 years old”, and appealed to the community to ensure that they instil in the youth a moral compass to guide them.
Mottley returned to the theme of values and principles that she highlighted at the last week’s regional conference of Church of God of Prophecy.
“We need to be able to create an army of young people across this Caribbean region that are rooted in principles.
“And I don’t mean to be sanctimonious because that’s not what is needed but they need the basic principles and values to make decisions for themselves on a day to day basis in the schoolyard, in the playing fields, in the churches, in the school classrooms, in their homes, in the small things.
“Because if we miss on the small things then they become large and they become incapable of being reined back in.
“And at the very time that the world is caught in isms and schisms and incapable of accommodating how one can live next to each other, we have a duty to be faithful to those values that will show you how one another can live next to each other.
“And if we can do that in this Caribbean region then we can hold to its being a zone of peace first and foremost, and then we can hold to each of us as a nation being able to punch above our weight.
“Because more than ever the world needs voices that are rooted in values and principles that are designed to be able to make a better life for each and every one of us.”
The chairman of the Barbados Christian Council, Major Darrell Wilkinson, highlighted the need for good governance in Christian churches as well as in Governmental and non-Governmental organisations.
According to him, the current demand for improved governance arose out of “multiple failures by individuals and groups to protect the interests of stakeholders and the integrity of institutions”.
He said: “We are living in a complex and constantly changing society that is looking for hope and meaning of life.
“A world that is looking to see the reality of the risen and the ascended Christ in us who are called of God.
“They are looking for integrity and accountability in the Churches and we need to deliver it.
“With these rapid world changes, we as Christ’s disciples need to examine our commitment to the ministry we have accepted, ordained and appointed by God so to effectively demonstrate accountability bringing hope, healing and purpose to a lost and frustrated world.”