Politicians who gathered at a high-profile religious event they helped to organize yesterday were restricted to scripture reading, and most of the religious leaders avoided controversial issues such as the quality of governance in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Of all the church leaders who spoke at the second Territorial Service of Thanksgiving and Intercession held at New Life Baptist Church in Duff’s Bottom, Reverend Dr Melvin Turnbull took the clearest swipe at the lawmakers in attendance.
“A house divided cannot stand,” he said in expressed reference to the House of Assembly. “In this dark hour in our history, with all that is going on, it can still turn around. And so I pray for every member of the House of Assembly; I pray for every leader in Government..”
Dr Turnbull then accused residents of not holding the politicians accountable.
“Sometimes we think that the government is just those who have been elected. We the people are the true government. We have elected them, but we have failed to hold them accountable, and so Lord we ask for forgiveness for being passive, for being bribed, for being ashamed, or afraid or whatever the reason may have been,” added Dr Turnbull who heads the Cane Garden Bay Baptist Church.
Among the politicians in earshot were Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering, Dr Hubert O’Neal, Alvera Maduro Caines, Leader of the Opposition Julian Fraser, and Andrew Fahie.
Minister responsible for religious affairs Myron Walwyn as well as Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull apparently left the event early. Premier Smith and Dr O’Neal also exited the church before the service ended.
Mark Vanterpool, Ronnie Skelton and Delores Christopher were the absent lawmakers.
Although the event was organized by Government, in collaboration with the BVI chapter of Aglow International, participation by the politicians was limited to three scripture readings.
Premier Smith read Exodus 20: 1-21, Fraser read Romans 13: 1-7, and Walwyn read 1Peters 2; 13-17.
The clergyman who played host, Bishop John Cline, was only seen at the start of the special service.
Meanwhile, a few hours before the annual event, persons who attended the usual Sunday service at New Life Baptist Church were urged not to put their trust in politicians.
Pastor Claude Skelton Cline, who unsuccessfully contested elections for the National Democratic Party (NDP), told the congregation that no political organization is capable of addressing the ills facing the BVI.
“We’ve been looking to politicians for too long… There is no salvation in NDP; there is no salvation in VIP (Virgin Islands Party), and there will be no salvation in any other ‘P’ that comes across this territory,” he preached.
According to Pastor Cline, it is time for people to turn to God for answers – not to the politicians.
“I recognize that we have some serious challenges in this territory… I realize that, until the men and women of the church get up from their slumber and be the righteous leaders that we ought to be according to the word of the church, then we will not fare well. Those people who were sick, those people who were lame, they did not go looking for the politicians; they did not go looking for the Roman emperor; they did not go looking for the governor of Palestine; they were looking for the men of God.”
Pastor Cline, still making reference to God, said: ‘I want to carry His presence into the office; I want to carry His presence into the boardroom; I wanna carry His presence when I’m sitting at the negotiation table… I am sick and tired of leaning and depending on everybody else; ‘my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood.”
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