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  1. #1
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    Has the church lost its conscience?

    Has the church lost its conscience?

    HEART TO HEART

    With Betty Ann Blaine

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Dear Reader, I'm not sure what it will take to awaken the Jamaican church. Nothing seems to be able to wrest the most powerful institution in Jamaica outside of government from its comfort zone of edifices and edicts - not the wanton and widespread murder and abuse of women and children; not the dastardly displays of immorality; not the deepening despair of poverty and dispossession. None of those things have been able to move the church to collectively emerge from its deep malaise. So now the violence is inching closer and closer to its doors.


    Betty Ann Blaine

    The alarming incident reported in the news a few days ago in which a 13-year-old girl was abducted from amongst a group of children while inside a church building, and while participating in a Christian summer camp, is a very serious matter for the church in particular, and for the rest of the society in general. That criminals armed with guns could contemplate and execute such an assault is in and of itself cause for concern. Since time immemorial, the church, both in the physical and spiritual sense, was always considered sacrosanct. It was generally understood and accepted that the church was the holiest of all places, and that everyone who walked through the church door ought to behave in a manner befitting the holy sanctuary. There was
    even a time when people spoke in hushed tones inside the church, except when repeating words of, and about God. Everyone understood that the church was God's building, and that reverence for God was paramount.

    Not only was it reported that the criminals entered the church and robbed the young children of their possessions in the wee hours of the morning (approximately 1:00 am), but they also did the unthinkable: they reportedly snatched an innocent child in full view of everyone, took her into the bushes and raped her. I'm told that she was already in bed and asleep when the assault started.

    This is no longer a joke, Jamaica, and the matter goes beyond church buildings and Christendom. To brazenly and wantonly commit that type of crime sends a loud and clear message that the criminal elements of this country are not afraid to attack innocents, whenever and wherever they choose, and that not even children inside of a church are exempt. The assault not only speaks to the blatant disregard for God's house and for the smallest and weakest amongst us, but it is an ominous sign of the deepening levels of anarchy that have enveloped the country. I'm not sure what it will take to rouse the church, but clearly this latest incident ought to elicit some type of response from the sleeping giant.

    I have never been able to fathom why the church in this country remains so silent and so docile in the face of the unrelenting attacks against our children. Outside of its own pulpits and sporadic public statements here and there regarding casino gambling (which by the way has become a dead issue for the church) and abortion, and the nice speeches at prayer breakfasts, the collective voice of the church is largely non-existent. Not even the alleged rape of a minor by a visiting clergyman from overseas produced a response from the church. The silence continues to be deafening.

    When one considers the historical and current activism of the church in other parts of the world and juxtaposes it to that of the Jamaican church, it as different as chalk and cheese. It was church groups like the Quakers who were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement to end slavery wherever it existed. It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other church leaders who struggled relentlessly until the evil Apartheid regime in South Africa was toppled, and it is church members in Chicago today who are the ones walking the streets of that city, day and night, confronting the criminal elements who have been preying on young children.

    It might be instructive for the church to heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, himself a pastor, when he reminded the congregation that, "When the man in the parable knocked on his friend's door and asked for the three loaves of bread, he received the impatient retort, 'Do not bother me, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed, I cannot get up and give you anything.' How often have men experienced a similar disappointment when at 'midnight they knock on the door of the church'? Millions of Africans, patiently knocking on the door of the Christian church where they seek the bread of social justice, have either been altogether ignored or told to wait until later, which almost always means never."

    King continued, "In the terrible midnight of war, men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them... In a world gone mad with arms build-ups, chauvinistic passions and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed those activities or remained appallingly silent. And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic privation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight."

    As King's words continue to resonate almost 50 years after he spoke them, the question that keeps coming forcefully to my mind is, has the Jamaican church lost its conscience?

    With love,
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: Has the church lost its conscience?

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm not sure what it will take to rouse the church, but clearly this latest incident ought to elicit some type of response from the sleeping giant.</div></div>

    <span style="color: #6600CC">Thanks for posting this. I recall reading the article highlighting this horrible event. The article below appears to be the response of the church. Practical response, but not enough, in light of the comments in the above mentioned article. I too think the Church can do more (got be honest here, some things are being done), in taking an active role in reformation of society. Such a horrible thing to happen to this little girl at a church youth camp. I used to go to youth camps when I was back home in JA, and you just felt so safe at these places. Safety concerns were the farthest thing from our minds back then. Not anymore. Very sad. Reality of the times </span>

    _____________

    <span style="font-weight: bold">Churches ponder security 'costs'
    </span>
    Published: Saturday | August 8, 2009
    Gareth Manning, Gleaner Writer

    Questions are being raised among churchgoers as to whether the time has come for churches to implement tighter security measures to protect their assets and congregants.

    The issue has come to the fore following reports of the abduction and rape of a 13-year-old girl at a church camp in the volatile Caanan Heights community in central Clarendon in the wee hours of Independence morning.

    The issue also comes against the background of an increase in property crimes against the Church.

    The Salvation Army, in particular, has been hit by robbers on a number of occasions since the start of the year, forcing it to consider whether it would cut its aid.

    Head of the Praise City International Church in Arnett Gardens in volatile South St Andrew, Dr Henley Morgan, says raising the level of security is an issue churches should be considering, but cautioned against the move in spite of the continually growing gun violence across the island.

    &quot;We do know in Jamaica the attack on church groups is very very low ... . The attack on youth camps is even lower,&quot; Morgan said.

    He said the Church should also consider the impact tighter security could have on the perception that the organisation held faith as one of its core pillars.

    &quot;It's not considered to be a demonstration of faith,&quot; he said. &quot;It's a strong thing in Jamaica, particularly within the lower strata, that God will protect and provide as long as you are doing his bidding.&quot;

    Executive chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica, the Reverend Lenworth Anglin, shared some similar thoughts on the issue. He said given the growing crime situation, the issue of security is proving more challenging for churches that need to strike a balance between demonstrating their faith and pragmatism.

    He said there were churches that believed they knew the communities in which they worked well, but that sometimes that was not the always the case.

    &quot;It's an assumption that some of us make, and it's proving to be otherwise now. You have to be careful,&quot; Anglin said.

    He said given the circumstances, it might be wiser for churches to operate daytime camps that allow children to leave the compound before dark, rather than run a residential facility that would require heightened and costly security.

    &quot;It's not cowardice but wisdom that churches must exercise,&quot; he said.

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