To: Ministers, Leaders and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: January 30, 2019
Greetings and Blessings
Rev Tui Nuku Smith
Rev Smith, arrived in Barbados on Saturday, will meet with the Bishop over the next couple of days before arriving here on Thursday 31. The Welcome Service for Rev. Smith will take place on Thursday 07, 2019, 6.00 pm at the Kingstown Chapel.
Reminder – Circuit Meetings
Please remember the Circuit Zonal meetings will take place on Wednesday 30 at Arnos Vale, Thursday 31 at Chauncey and Friday 01 at Westwood. All will take place at 6.00 p.m.
The official launch of Youth Month takes place on Saturday 2nd February 2019. A March Against Crime begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Calliaqua Anglican Church, through the community of Calliaqua and ending at the Calliaqua Playing Field. At the launch, there will be segments of Song Against Crime and the Word Against Crime. An added feature of a balloon release will also be done where attendees will be asked to right a word on a balloon that encourages peace and unity and the balloon will be released into the air. This will be immediately followed with the segment of Sports Against Crime, where football, netball and athletics will take place. The group with the largest contingent will gain points towards youth month. Points will also be awarded for most uniformed group and the group that is most actively engaged. No points will be awarded for sporting events. Numbers from invited guests and the congregation will be taken into account – not just the members of the youth group. ALL are invited.
The Circuit concert took place on Sunday at the Kingstown chapel and was a wonderful experience. The feedback has been entirely positive and high praises have been proffered for the quality of the production and performances. We still have a lot of work to do in owning our activities and ensuring their success. While the attendance was favourable it was not great. It does raise questions about our commitment to our church and our priorities among other issues. Commendations are in order for Sis Janine John, chair of the committee, who took the bull by the horns to ensure the success of this event.
Dr. Billman and Br. Cornwall Visits
The Bishop has given our Circuit the opportunity to share in the Ministries of Rev. Dr. Frank H. Billman, Director of Equipping Ministries, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries USA. He is the author of the book The Supernatural Thread in Methodism: Signs, Wonders and Miracles Among Methodists Then and Now. The book reviewed by Sis Laura Anthony-Browne at Aldersgate 2018. He will be in the Circuit from February 9-13 and the Georgetown Mt. Coke Circuit from the 15-17. His schedule includes a session for ministers, preachers, commissioned lay workers and other pastoral helpers on the Island at the Church Hall on Friday 15th and a session with all leaders and potential leaders in the Circuit.
Bro. Leon Cornwall (Leon ‘Bogo’ Cornwall) a key member of the Peoples Revolutionary Army [PRA] in Grenada was at the forefront of the Grenada revolution. Jailed for several years, Cornwall gave his life to the Lord while in prison, studied Theology and since his release has been an active preacher in the Methodist Church, Grenada Circuit. At a date (possible July) and venue to be finalized Bro Cornwall will be in St Vincent to share his testimony and present Christian experience. Additional information will be communicated to enable preparation.
ALL are invited to these ministry experiences.
Church Hall manager & Circuit Factotum
Bro Deion Allen of the Brighton Congregation has been employed as our new Church Hall manager and Circuit Factotum. He began on January 01, 2019 and has hit the ground running as several issues have had to be addressed. The Term Factotum is used to mean “allrounder” and encapsulates his responsibilities regards the circuit properties (including Granby street) and vehicles. There are several property matters we anticipate his appointment should address including records and boundaries.
Lent 2019 begins on Ash Wednesday, March 06, 2019. During lent we will intentionally focus on our evangelistic thrust. March 9 we will have our training seminar for all leaders and potential leaders, 10th – Launch of missions, 15-16 Zonal Open Air, 17-23 – prayer in the community and Holy Week – April 15-17 Congregational Open Air Services. Each congregation is asked to plan their launch of missions – Mission Service.
Rev. Adolf Davis
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council in conjunction with The Seventh-day Adventist Church, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mission, The Association of Evangelical Churches and Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese are pleased to issue the following joint statement, noting several observations as they continue to be concerned regarding the nature and pace of advancements is respect of the establishment of a Medical Cannabis Industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Christian Council, having been invited to be a part of the select committee whose purview it is to review the proposed legislation governing a Medical Cannabis Industry, without compromising the process, believes there are several issues of concern which are critical in navigating this endeavour.
Our participation in this process, particularly at this moment, on the Select Committee is not to be understood as support for this endeavour nor evidence of vacillation and uncertainty, rather it is informed by a perspective that if your caution or warning is ignored there is still “responsibleness” in contributing to minimize the potential adverse outcomes. Further, it is our hope that our engagement in this process can reflect the kind of respect and maturity we encourage in national discourse where we can disagree and have strong divergent views, yet still respectfully engage.
Our position in summary
The Churches believe that the scientific and anecdotal information regarding the medical benefits of Marijuana are sufficiently credible for a nation to conceptualize and pursue a Medical Marijuana Industry or more conservatively, legal access to Medical Marijuana. The Churches also believe that there is enough information available to suggest that substantial revenues can be obtained from such an industry. The Churches are of the considered opinion however that there is sufficient historical experience, anecdotal and scientific information regarding the deleterious impact of Marijuana on individuals and society, especially on youth to necessitate great caution in the pursuit of such an Industry. With respect to establishing such an industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines; we continue to contend that the multiplicity of variables requires a sufficiency of research and thoroughness of investigation, conversation and consultation to speculate regarding the social and economic impact and determine our capacity to ensure not only a “net benefit” but to ask whether the cost is too high or whether the benefits are worth the ‘price’.
We appreciate the invitation and opportunity to participate in the process especially in shaping the legal framework for this industry. Though sharing different views regarding the pursuit of the industry, we commend the Government on its resistance to what we consider to be ‘irresponsible overtures’ towards full legalisation or legalisation for recreational use. We are also of the view, from a layman and neophyte’s perspective, that the legislation is very thoroughgoing and reflects an awareness of the necessary caution that needs be employed. We appreciate further, that access to Medical Marijuana may enable persons dealing with particular illnesses to find comfort, relief or even resolution. We are also mindful that a successful industry can enable significant revenue.
Important issues – MARIJUANA A GATEWAY DRUG
The vexatious nature of this issue is in part informed by historical and changing attitudes towards this ‘herb’ that is a narcotic (narkōtikós – A ‘numbing’ substance that blunts the senses, produces euphoria, stupor, or coma and may cause addiction) and as such has a psychoactive impact on the brain with a significant risk of damage to a young and developing brain.
While it has become popular to declare that Marijuana is no longer considered a gateway drug we are mindful that the research and conversation on this matter is still inconclusive. What we have observed is that among the methods used (and with good reason) is; where a research sample identifies 1,000 persons who use Marijuana and discover only 20 of that 1,000 go on to use “hard drugs”. This evidence reasonably indicates that there is no necessary relationship between Marijuana and hard drugs, therefore it is not a gateway drug. What has, at times, not been sufficiently considered is the reverse approach where If you take 1,000 persons who are on hard drugs, you may discover 600 of that number having their introduction to a narcotic by ‘pot’. The contextualizing of this data is even more crucial since researchers in the dialogue on gateway drugs contend that several other social, economic and accessibility factors inform people’s drug habits and choices. In St Vincent and the Grenadines our experience is sufficiently substantial for the anecdotal and observational either to be taken seriously of itself or to provoke serious research BEFORE advancing a Marijuana Industry. Few would credibly contest that the view and experience of many Vincentians is that the vast majority of our youth on hard drugs had their introduction to a narcotic by ‘weed’. To many Vincentians (users and observers) through the years marijuana is a gateway drug.
This observation along with the testimony of many drug users who inform that the first ‘high’ stimulates a desire for more ‘highs’ and ‘higher heights’ provide potent argument for us to consider the POTENTIAL impact a marijuana industry can have on our youth and drug abuse along with the related problem of crime and violence. However regulated the industry would be and however ‘low’ the ‘high’ from the Industry variety (in the first instance) what it amounts to is increased access to a narcotic by our youth and a psychoactive titivation which can still stimulate the appetite for more or greater. We need to also bear in mind that this ‘opened door’ to a particular variety and purpose has also forced the issue of the legal access to the high grade. While access for religious purposes is expected to be heavily regulated, we are mindful that our institutional capacities often make enforcement problematic or minimal. It is equally critical that we admit that medical marijuana is not a specific type of marijuana but a particular purpose for using marijuana. What this means is that the industry will invariably determine what strains we produce. There is no reason to believe that research will not emerge to validate a demand for the ‘high grade’. This Medical Cannabis Industry will invariably mean increased access to ‘low’ and ‘high’ grades of marijuana.
THE RISK OF ACCESS – Institutional capacity
This connects us to other concerns, among them; the experience of countries and cities with greater capacity and monitoring machinery than St Vincent who are challenged to limit diversion (transferring cannabis to illegal use and trade), youth having increased access to the drug and struggle to curtail a black market which capitalizes on the increase sympathy and presence of the marijuana.
While the legislation may be robust, our Vincentian experience cannot be whitewashed. We must admit our limitations and myriad challenges in effective implementation and sustaining. Key to our new Industry will be the role of inspectors. They have a mammoth task of ensuring the integrity of the Industry and by extension preserving our credibility before international institutions. We already have a significant cadre of Agricultural Extension Officers, how efficient and effective have they been and other similar functionaries in fulfilling expectations and obligations? While, in contrast to the Medical Cannabis Industry, there is no direct law contravened in cases of negligence, questions like this are worth considering with respect to enabling a healthy work culture and work ethic to facilitate the effective function of inspectors?
Have we reviewed audits done in Colorado and any other jurisdiction where an effort was made to assess the effectiveness of the so-called seed-to-sale system of regulating Medical Marijuana? Are we aware that the 2016 Colorado report, a jurisdiction with much greater institutional capacity than St Vincent, summarily reported by the Denver Post, stated that “Often lauded as a national model, Colorado’s so-called seed-to-sale system of regulating Medical Marijuana does not exist, auditors found”
The high-risk group requiring careful attention is our youth. Have we considered the implication of the 2016 report on Student Drug Use in 13 Caribbean Countries?
Some observations of note:
- The highest incidence of Marijuana use was Antigua and correspondingly they also had the greatest ease of access.
- Alcohol which is legal and therefore easily accessible has a significantly higher percentage of use among our youth than Marijuana. The idea that making something legal takes away appetite and desire needs to be questioned or shelved. It is also obvious that accessibility often increases use.
- The research also affirmed a relationship between youth drug use and behavioural issues.
Have we considered the reports from Colorado and other States or Countries which indicate that there was an increase in school suspensions post Marijuana legalization? While our primary focus is on the Medical Industry, are their fundamental lessons particularly informed by the matter of product access that can be instructive?
Have we done the research regarding the impact of Marijuana on our youth in St Vincent and the Grenadines, considering the number of patients at the Psychiatric Hospital who are experiencing Marijuana Psychosis and whose mental health narrative includes Marijuana use? Have we considered and explored the narrative of crime in St Vincent and the Grenadines and considered the claim that many of our youth in crime have been involved in some form of drug abuse or misuse, a narrative which substantially includes Marijuana? Have we visited our prisons to ascertain whether there is any truth in the view that most of the inmates are Marijuana users with a significant percentage moving on to, or simply on harder drugs? Is a possible significant correlation between crime in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Marijuana use sufficiently critical for adequate investigation to be pursued before creating a space for increased access to weed?
The impact of increased access to concentrates
To what extent have we done the research and made the information available for critique; where some jurisdictions (Colorado included) recorded a spike in drug use after the legalization of Marijuana (for them too medicinal was the precursor to ‘full’ legalization)? Have we sufficiently considered, even though this is intended to be a heavily regulated Industry, what the implications would be for drug abuse with increased access to highly concentrated THC oils and other Marijuana by-products, albeit for medicinal purposes? In other jurisdictions has there been a great demand for this potent narcotic on the black market and if so how have they, and can we realistically manage such?
There is good reason to anticipate a windfall (of revenues) in the preliminary years of the Industry however, have we sufficiently considered the possibility and implications of having large Marijuana farms and no markets – because companies have pulled out? While the regulations seek to tie the cultivation necessarily to the supply, and while some consideration has been given to potential areas of breach, have we given sufficient consideration that variations in implementation can very well leave us with plantations and not ready markets? Have we considered the possibility that Marijuana can become our new Banana – where, we have little or no market advantage to compete with other countries with larger farms and cheaper products?
Or have we considered, as scientifically as practicable, that the science regarding Marijuana is relatively ‘young’ and as such with increasing acceptance and access comes greater research and scrutiny which gives rise to research claims like that of the American College of Cardiology who contend that Marijuana Use is Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Failure? To what extent have we considered Marijuana’s complex nature and its evolution over the years to a less “natural” and more potent drug and the implications this has on the longevity of the Industry? As the research emerges, is it possible that this increasingly ‘unnatural’ herb and the discovery of the nature and impact of the various components of Marijuana can leave us with products and a substantially changed weed and drug culture to negotiate? This also is a question of sufficiency of research and responsible speculation.
Have we considered the imperialistic and neo-colonial undertones to this new ‘cash cow’? To what extent in our quest to have a windfall are we pandering to, and perpetuating an ideological and existential phenomenon built on principles of exploitation and manipulation using money and monetization and the primary medium? Have we sufficiently considered the possibility that the global landscape of this Industry is about making space for large companies and corporations who determine the regulatory framework, which create opportunity for them to capitalize while ensuring (whether deliberately or coincidentally) that the small man is excluded or marginal? A process which manipulatively uses the legitimate concern of protecting our youth and society from the proliferation of a narcotic.
To what extent have we analysed the narrative of drug use locally and globally which reflects that in most jurisdictions the significant at-risk demographic in the trade of narcotics and intoxicants are the poor? Research and observational data continues to reveal that the vast majority of wealth from Alcohol and drug trade reflects a major disproportion in profit verses use since the more affluent benefit while the poor are the major consumers and disproportionately carry the burdens of abuse and dysfunction? As such, have we considered who (potentially) will be our greatest causalities in an environment where there will inevitably be an increased access to a narcotic, and correspondingly, who will prosper? Have we considered that this Industry and the rapidly increasing interest in liberalization has little to do with the “Herb” and its medicinal benefits or religious significance and ‘everything’ to do with the commercialization of Marijuana or in some cases of the commercialization THC as a cash cow, since Marijuana may have the greatest potential for creating legal space or loopholes to facilitate trade in a narcotic – a drug trade where millions of dollars are already being made?
What have we learnt from the Tobacco Industry? Is there a need, as part of this exploration and imperialism narrative, to monitor Tobacco Companies’ interest in the Marijuana Industry? How do we mitigate against them and others so commercializing weed by introducing methods of making the product more appealing (such as menthol additives) and finding ways of optimizing the psychoactive effect, ‘deliberately’ making it more addictive? Shouldn’t we ask these kinds of questions to avoid “biting off more than we can chew”?
The need for speculation, morally and regarding policy is critical. Speculation does not by itself determine whether or not we take a particular action – we cannot fail to do something only because the possibility exists for worse, however if the possibility of worse exists, we ought to question whether the journey is sufficiently beneficial for the risk of the first step to be taken.
With the introduction of a Medical Cannabis Industry comes greater sympathy towards this narcotic, a “de-stigmatization”. As such many unapologetically anticipate, informed by narratives already known, that the next inevitable step is legalization for recreational use before full legalization. Relatedly, if and very likely, when Medical Marijuana revenues begin to diminish in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, doesn’t that also make greater ‘wiggle’ room for the illegal trade and a shift to recreational use liberalization?
Have we sufficiently explored the thesis that legalization of Medical Marijuana is really an opening of the door for a scheme of increased access, through regulations, to other dangerous drugs? Are we aware that the Drug Policy Alliance is believed to be actively involved in the advocacy for Medical Marijuana in anticipation of the process: Medical Marijuana, high potency extracts to recreational Marijuana to full legalization (regulation) of Marijuana to legalization and regulation of other dangerous drugs? Once Marijuana is legalized for recreational use especially with the high THC strains being engineered, it is almost impossible to reasonably keep the door closed for other drugs. Have we given due consideration and done the research regarding the view that the ‘real’ money is not in Medical Marijuana, but recreational. As with the illegal trade, the money is not in grandma using it for arthritis but in the illicit use of the substance; a usage which is often dominated by the poor and vulnerable?
We are concerned that while there has continued to be a significantly high level of Marijuana use in St Vincent and the Grenadines and while it is also true that many of the users have demonstrated no major adverse effect in the short term and at times in the long term, there are sufficient examples of our youth who have been seriously harmed by Marijuana use, either by itself or as an introduction to other drugs and drug mixtures, that should provoke the kind of concern that causes apprehension and reservation. Every life in St Vincent and the Grenadines is of immeasurable value. While policy may not often be directed by exceptions, there are sufficient exceptions regarding the deleterious impact of Marijuana on our youth, especially when considering the nature and consequences of that impact for the application of the principle of ‘erring on the side of caution’.
The Collaborative position of the Churches represented above is that it is not convinced, especially in view of the limited and lacking contextual research, that our anticipated benefits will sufficiently outweigh the costs especially and particularly the cost to the most ‘vulnerables’ of our society. We appreciate the need for and importance of a strong revenue stream, for vibrant economic ventures and for access to medical treatment that can improve well-being but we are also mindful that many narratives of mis-development are the consequence economic pursuit, without sufficient consideration of social impact. If and when these questions we have raised have sufficiently been considered, we believe it is prudent that the answers are adequately compiled and readily available.
As Churches concerned for the will of God for our nation and grounded in biblical principles and values such as “our body is the temple of God”, “[quality of] life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” and “neighbourliness”, concerned with the holistic development of the individual and the collective, we reiterate our strong apprehension regarding the pursuit of a Medical Cannabis Industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We call for thorough research and investigation regarding the potential impact of such an endeavour especially on the vulnerable of our society. We caution that pursuit of any endeavour simply to make money almost always perpetuates dehumanizing values. We encourage increased, continued and responsible dialogue based on present and presented research exploring various sides of the issue. We caution further that slighting the potential relationship with marijuana, drugs and crime can affect the general way of life for all Vincentians. We are confident that the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines will pause in its pursuit, seriously consider, investigate and explore the issues raised as we seek to leave a noble legacy for the generations to come – Hairouna, land of the blessed (not playground of the wealthy).
- The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mission of Seventh-day Adventists
- The Association of Evangelical Churches
- Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese
ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
A RESPONSE BY CHURCH LEADERS
The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has declared publicly its intentions of establishing a “Medicinal Marijuana Industry” in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the purpose of legally growing Marijuana for research and medicinal purposes.
A RESPONSE BY HEADS OF CHURCHES
Having been made aware of Government’s move towards legalizing Marijuana for medicinal purposes, The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council invited Heads of Churches to a meeting to discuss the issue, noting its merits and demerits and to formulate a response in the best interest of honesty, transparency and clarity. After discussing the issue, based on information that is available, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council in conjunction with the Seventh-day Adventists, Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese and the Evangelical Association are pleased to issue the following joint statement, noting several observations and concerns:
CLARIFYING THE ISSUE
- 1. The proposal as presented to us is for the legalization of Marijuana with strict regulations which can facilitate further research on the medical uses of Marijuana and its ‘derivatives’; enable pharmaceutical controls and shape an industry that provides significant employment, economic opportunity and activity for national development. This initiative is distinct from the matter of decriminalization of Marijuana or legalization for recreational or religious use.
- The Government’s recommendation intends to introduce a special strain of Marijuana which it refers to as “Medical Marijuana.”
- We recognize however that it is important to clarify that “Medical Marijuana refers to using the whole Cannabis plant, or the plant’s basic extracts, for the treatment of various ailments or conditions.” There are various strains of Marijuana, one of which is often referred to as “Medical Marijuana” because of its low level of Tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) and the reduced potential for a psychoactive effect.
- Additionally, while some may be confused between the terms Cannabis and Marijuana or prefer using terms like Medical Cannabis, it should be noted that “Cannabis is a category for a plant species that includes both Hemp and Marijuana. Two related but different plants from the same “family.”
- The Heads of Churches do not dispute the research that Marijuana has medical benefits; neither do they dispute the need for continuing research which can lead to accrued benefits for the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the world over living a healthier and fulfilled life. However, as good and beneficial as ‘Medicinal Marijuana’ may appear to be, we believe of themselves, they do not constitute sufficient argument for the legalization of Marijuana in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
- There are several other compelling arguments which must be brought to light and fleshed out as the proposal engages national attention and public consumption.
The following are relevant concerns that have grasp our engagement about the way this matter is being pursued:
- The haste at which the Government is moving on the matter gives a distinct impression that this is a “fait accompli” and that public consultation is either for “rubber stamping” or to fine-tune the forward thrust.
- That there has been no “concept document” outlining a proposal with the legal and institutional framework to enable proper assessment, thorough analysis and robust evaluation to determine whether St Vincent and the Grenadines has the institutional capacity and political will to undertake and manage such an enterprise. This should not simply be “draft legislation” since the matter is much more complex than legislative frameworks.
- That the indication that a document would be circulated after presentation to Parliament can be viewed as a disregard of critical organizational and other stakeholders’ analysis.
- The integrity of our nation as a member of CARICOM demands that we receive the report from the “Regional Commission on Marijuana” established by the CARICOM Heads of Government before advancing our own program. While we are not aware of the nature of the research or the findings and proposals the commission will present, we believe that the process should be respected since the commission’s mandate includes; conducting “a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding Marijuana use in the Caribbean and to determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of Marijuana, thereby making the drug more accessible for all types of usage (religious, recreational, medical and research)”
- Our primary concern relates to the social impact and the related costs to our national wellbeing and development. We are mindful of the view that “we are not managing alcohol and its impact on our youth;” how much more can we manage possible increased access to Marijuana.
- We are mindful that SVG has continued to see the impact of Marijuana on our youth, heavily contributing to antisocial behaviors and mental illness.
- Though some of the research has argued that Marijuana is not a gateway drug, we cannot ignore the fact that many persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines who have turned to “hard drugs” had their first narcotic encounter with Marijuana.
- That there has been no adequate and thorough analysis of the current social impact of Marijuana on our nation, especially our youth, in a manner that will enable an honest assessment of risk factors.
- That the information presented thus far in the engagement of the church and in the media does not adequately represent the “pros and cons” in a responsible-enough manner to enable honest assessment and mature decision making.
- While there is the view that responsible legislation will regulate the “Medical Marijuana Industry” and enable the supplanting of the current illegal enterprise, we are aware that the introduction of a ‘weak weed’ will not eliminate the demand for the strong local weed, or for the illegal enterprise.
- While the view is that this industry would be heavily regulated and controls put in place, where licenses are granted and pharmaceutical controls implemented with the issuance of prescriptions, what this does not address is the impact on the current illegal trade. The assumption that current producers will abandon that illegal trade for a highly regulated alternative seems quite unlikely.
- While the economic benefits anticipated are expected to be great and there are health benefits anticipated, we are concerned that as a nation we do not currently have the capacity to implement the requisite institutional and structural systems to manage the potential impact on our youth and to address the possible social fallout.
- We believe that there is cautionary value in studying the Columbia narrative. In that Jurisdiction, cultivation of Coca and possession of up to one gram of cocaine is legal; however the struggle with the illegal enterprise has been onerous and in many respects a losing battle. While cocaine is a by-product of Coca and in some ways different from the production of Marijuana or “Medical Marijuana,” the struggle to supplant an illegal trade; Government’s failed efforts at crop substitution programs or finding effective social and economic alternatives, aerial spraying and the destruction of fields with the concomitant migration of farmers to harder-to-reach areas all have important lessons which can guide our discourse and pursuit.
- While the current proposal is for the introduction of “medical marijuana”, which can be considered a more cautious and controlled approach, the concerns highlighted here and otherwise articulated should also intimate that we do not believe that ‘full legalization’ or the introduction of ‘recreational marijuana’ is an option, if we are seriously concerned about the total wellbeing of our nation and have the interest of our youth at heart. The concern for the ‘criminalization of our youth’ requires mature exploration and responsible discourse and research to avoid addressing one concern by compounding another.
- The Church will continue to be engaged in reflection on these matters, mindful of the wisdom for national policy capsuled in the phrase “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Many decisions in our modern society have been advanced primarily on the premise of its economic and developmental value. This has prompted the introduction of concepts such as Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Cost-benefit analysis (CBA). It is imperative therefore that we deliberately consider that quality of life is more than dollars and cents and juxtapose this discourse with issues such as crime and violence.
It is our hope that the preceding points will add perspective to the conversation; foster an appreciation of the complexity of this matter and the need for wider professional consultation, more public discourse and mature discussion towards responsible decision making for the wellbeing of our nation.
RELEASED BY HEADS OF CHURCHES AS INDICATED ABOVE
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: September 14, 2019
Brothers and sisters,
Greetings and Blessings in Christ
7 hours of prayer and prayer and fasting guide
On Sunday September 22 the Circuit will be in prayer as we observe Seven Hours of Prayer. Each congregation will gather either in the chapel or at an identified location for one hour in prayer. From 7.00 – 8.00 pm throughout the circuit all will join in prayer.
The hours assigned to the congregations are
- 1.00 – 2.00 pm Brighton & Chateaubelair
- 1.30 – 2.30 Calliaqua
- 2.00 – 3.00 Arnos Vale & Troumaca
- 2.30 – 3.30 Gomea
- 3.00 – 4.00 Sion Hill & Rose Hall
- 3.30 – 4.30 Kingstown
- 4.00 – 5.00 Campden Park & Westwood
- 4.30 – 5.30 Chauncey
- 5.00 – 6.00 Hope & Spring
- 5.30 – 6.30 Layou
- 6.00 – 7.00 Barrouallie
During 7.00 – 8.00 pm members are encouraged to join with at least one prayer partner for Prayer. Call, text, meet PRAY. Households can use the last half hour also as a time to pause and pray together.
For the congregational Hour it would be helpful if someone is identified to facilitate the hour in prayer. Classes can be assigned sections of the hour or groups and organizations. Sing a hymn or song, welcome and greetings then pray. Approaches that can be used:
- Volunteers to prayer for particular areas
- Prayer in small groups or pairs
- Short, sentence prayers by all present
- Silent prayer
- Choral Prayer (all praying simultaneously)
- Prayer conversation – identifying what are concerns and the nature of the problem that we are praying for and what we want God to do in such situations
- Using the words of hymns/songs as a prayer
Some areas for Prayer (please identify others)
- The Congregation
- The Kingstown/ Chateaubelair Circuit
- The Georgetown Mt Coke Circuit, Rev. Cornelius Harry as new Superintendent
- The District and Connexion
- Ministers in Training including those at the United Theological College
- The Nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines
- The problem of sexual assault and harassment, carnal knowledge, incest
- The problem of crime (Homicides are at 12 for the year)
- The challenge to our Buggery and Gross Indecency Laws and the infiltration of ungodly values
- Families and Family life
- The medical Marijuana industry in St Vincent and the use and misuse of marijuana and drugs
The Day of Prayer and Fasting follows on Monday 23.
There is no doubt that fasting was practiced by Jesus (Matt 4.1-11) and expected by Jesus of his followers (“WHEN you fast” – Matt 6.16). Christians therefore fast because:
- Jesus fasted, setting an example, presenting a model of something of value
- Jesus expects/ requires/ commands us to fast
Fasting in scripture was generally practiced to “enhance the holy life,” i.e. our relationship with God and to “strengthen our prayers.”
As an act of self-denial fasting provides the Christian with an opportunity to remember one of the most fundamental aspects of and obstacles to relationship with Christ – the SELF.
Sadly many of our members have not given this spiritual discipline a fair chance and have not experienced the rich benefits.
Persons either observe a standard or normal (water only) fast, a full fast – food and water (Est 4.16, Ex 34.28), (Ez 8.21, Matt 4.1-2), partial fast (Num 6.1-8, Dan 1.8-17) or other variations. Each person will need to decide whether they abstain from all foods and water, only food, solid foods, certain foods or from certain practices. Each person however must take cognizance of their health without using health as a scapegoat.
It IS a challenge to truly deny self in this set-aside practice (as well as in our general spiritual walk), so a simple cop-out undermines the purpose and intention. Fasting can and will be a challenge to body, mind and spirit. It is not expected to be easy or a matter of what you prefer, or feel is convenient. As such, make your decision prayerfully and sincerely. Conscious of the need to preserve one’s health as a gift from God variations to the fast have included abstaining from something that is of value, importance and loved dearly. While some have fasted from meat, sweets, solid foods, others have fasted by missing a meal, from using their cell-phones or from watching the television. Whatever your fast is should challenge you and make space for your reflecting on your relationship with God.
The fast can either be from 6am to 6pm or as in the Wesleyan fast; from the last meal on the 22nd to mid/late afternoon on the 23rd.
Begin your fast with prayer deliberately continuing to lift up the areas identify above and identify two or three intervals during your fast when you will deliberately pause for prayer. Make use of the day to call another person and pray. Also, pray deliberately and by name for as many members of your congregation as possible.
PLEASE LET US SPEND TIME IN PRAYER
- Feed back on harvest proposal
- Work on missions project
- Class Sunday – Sept 29
Rev. A. Davis
To: Ministers, Leaders and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: August 31, 2019
Greetings and Blessings Brothers and Sisters in Christ
As you are aware we begin a new Church year as the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas this comes with challenges and opportunities and the assurance that with God our latter will be greater than our last.
1. Rev. Serna Samuel will be on a year leave of absence (from the work) as she continues to navigate her various demands and challenges.
2. Staff Assignments
a. Rev. Davis – Kingstown, Arnos Vale, Gomea, Layou
b. Rev. Cato – Hope. Barrouallie, Sion Hill
c. Rev. Charles – Chateaubelair, Troumaca, Rose Hall, Westwood, Spring
d. Rev. Smith – Calliaqua, Brighton, Chauncey, Campden Park
Sis Christobel Ashton will continue as a commissioned Lay Worker assigned to the Layou Congregation.
Sis Nicole John has been granted a dispensation to administer the sacrament of Holy Communion for the year 2019-2020. We have also requested and dispensation granted for Sis. Christobel Ashton to administer the sacrament of Holy Communion for this year 2019-2020. We thank God for the willingness to be of service to the Lord in many and various ways.
With the departure of Bro Jerand Phills who served as one of our youth coordinators the youth ministry will experience some revamping administratively. It will also benefit from the presence of Bro William Willoughby III, a Global Mission Fellow through the United Methodist Church, USA. He will be assisting with the youth ministry on the North Leeward end of the circuit for the next two years.
Absence from Circuit
I will most likely be absent from the Circuit from September 9-13 for a PANCAP meeting in Trinidad as a follow up to a joint dialogue which took place in April 2018 and from November 4 – 8, as part of a delegation from St. Vincent participating in a Learning Exchange Between St. Vincent and Belize in view of possible legislative reforms of the sexual offences legislation in St. Vincent.
The dates identified for Harvest are as follows. Please confirm that the date identified for your congregation is correct.
- Oct 13 – Kingstown
- Oct 27 – Campden Park and Spring
- Nov 03 – Chauncey, Troumaca, Brighton
- Nov 10 – Westwood, Layou, Gomea, Sion Hill
- Nov 17 – Arnos Vale, Chateaubelair, Barrouallie
- Nov 24 – Rose Hall, Hope, Calliaqua
I would like us to seriously consider a different approach to Harvest this year and as such will appreciate your feedback. We discussed the significant decline in Harvest as we know it and the need to explore new approaches. We can consider three basic components:
- One Sunday for Harvest Thanksgiving worship in each congregation.
- Zonal Cantatas
- Zonal Sale/Harvest mini-fair.
We give God thanks for missionary 2019 as almost all congregations have met their targets, even surpassing it. Layou again takes the lead with the implementation of their mission project. They have already completed their 2019 mission project. Do remember congregations receive thirty percent (30%) of what they raise to the target for congregational mission and all funds raised exceeding their target which can be used either as part of their mission project or to assist in a congregational endeavour such as beautifying the chapel. Ten percent (10%) goes to the District mission. This is also used for District Chaplaincies. Twenty-Five percent (25%) goes to the Circuit for day to day ministry and Thirty-Five percent (35%) to the Circuit Mission projects and other mission outreach activities. We commend the launch of the Circuit Secondary school scholarship where three (3) students will receive support for the duration of the secondary school life and three others received one-time bursaries. Do remember if you haven’t met your target, you have until September 30.
Circuit in prayer
The Circuit Meeting in Prayer on September 08, 2018 at the Kingstown Chapel. ALL leaders and members are encouraged to participate in this time in prayer.
7 Hours of prayer – September 22
As we continue our thrust in shaping a culture of prayer and as we affirm the necessity of prayer in facing the challenges that are ahead for us as a church and nation we will be having our first 7 Hours-Of-Prayer. As you would appreciate seven is deliberately chosen for its biblical symbolism of completeness. Each congregation will be given a slot where they will meet and pray. Their slot will overlap with other congregations to ensure our time in prayer is ‘without ceasing’. While the meeting place would be the church, congregations can also feel free to meet in other locations in the community. I would anticipate congregational stewards and ministers will ensure that this is effectively completed. Whether its two or two hundred meet and pray.
The time slots are
- Brighton 1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m.
- Calliaqua 1:30 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.
- Arnos Vale 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Gomea 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Sion Hill 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Kingstown 3:30 p.m- 4:30 p.m.
- Campden Park 4:00 p.m-5:00 p.m.
- Chauncey 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Hope 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Layou 5.30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- Barrouallie 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Chateaubelair 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m
- Troumaca 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Rose Hall 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Westwood 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Spring 5:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.
A prayer guide will be circulated but our time in prayer is not limited to the guide. LET US PRAY!!!
Day of prayer and fasting
Initially September 02 was identified as a day of prayer and fasting however I am encouraging our use of September 23 as the day of prayer as fasting as a follow up to the 7 hours of prayer.
As we look towards the new church year… we praise God for what is past and trust him for what is to come.
Rev. Adolf Davis
To: Ministers, Leaders and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: June 05, 2019
Brothers and sisters,
Greetings and Blessings in Christ
I trust all is well with you and that you have been experiencing the love of God in refreshing and renewing ways.
This year, as you are aware, our mission season has been so organized as to deliberately ignite our evangelistic thrust as a church. It is not intended that this trust would be exclusive to a season but a continues part of the narrative of our Circuit. The feedback has been very encouraging. Several persons have spoken of their appreciation for our outreach and the blessings it has been to their lives. So far we have hosted Congregational open airs, zonal open airs, prayer Caravan, revival services and mobile crusades. I thank God for the ways in which you have variously made these endeavours possible. Your service to the Lord and the church, your participation and prayers have been a blessing. As we seek to do better we thank God for what is past and trust him for what is to come.
Missionary services are coming up. We will first have the Congregational missions on July 28 and the circuit mission on Aug 11. Congregational Stewards are encouraged to liaise with the preachers assigned to prepare for the congregational mission service early. Make it a meaningful time when mission is celebrated and encouraged.
The first missionary ingathering will be on June 23. This is our first occasion to bring in books and other collections and offerings. This is to ensure we are meeting our target.
Remember congregational targets are:
Arnos Vale 22,000.00, Barrouallie 3,000.00, Brighton 5,000.00, Calliaqua 20,000.00, Campden Park 4,000.00, Chateaubelair 4,000.00, Chauncey 7,000.00, Gomea 3,500.00, Hope 2,500.00, Kingstown 40,000.00, Layou 3,500.00, Rose Hall 3,000.00, Spring 2,500.00, Troumaca 2,000.00, West Wood 5,500.00, Sion Hill 2,500.00
Please give attention to identifying and competing your missionary project
- Rev. Davis – July 1-27
- Rev. Cato – July 8-Aug 03
- Rev. Charles – Aug 05-31
- Rev. Smith – Aug 05-31
- Rev. Samuel – Aug 01-31
- Rev. C. Richardson – Aug 05-31
Absence from the Circuit
Rev. Charles and I are currently out of circuit to continue the District management/leadership training at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business, UWI. We left on Monday. He returns tomorrow but I remain until Friday for a superintendents meeting tomorrow (Thursday) and General Purposes Meeting on Friday.
In Christ Service
Rev. A. Davis
To: Ministers, Leaders and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: April 06, 2019
Brothers and sisters,
Greetings and Blessings in Christ
Plans are afoot for our Aldersgate celebration 2019 and we encourage congregations and members to begin preparations as look forward for God to do far more than we can ever ask or think.
Prayer Caravan (Saturday May 11)
This year the prayer Caravan will be a joint venture with the Georgetown-Mt. Coke Circuit. It would be a nation-wide prayer caravan. The Caravan is scheduled for Saturday, May 11 beginning at 2pm and culminating with an Open Air Service in Calliaqua, at 5.pm
Three simultaneous caravans will begin at 2pm. The starting points are Chateaubelair & Layou for the Kingstown-Chateaubelair Circuit and Georgetown for the Georgetown-Mt. Coke Circuit. Congregations in Zones 1 and 2 will meet at Layou to begin that Caravan with Troumaca and Biabou being points of convergence for the other two caravans. Each caravan will make approximately three 30-minute stops where all members will go in the immediate vicinity to pray with persons. More details will be communicated.
Congregations are encouraged to begin making arrangements for transportation. It is critical that you begin making transportation arrangements early. Each congregation should have at the very least one van.
Aldersgate Rally (May 26)
This year’s format will be similar to that of last year. The rally Begins at 9.00 a.m. Lunch is scheduled for 1.p.m and the worship and communion Service at 3pm. During the morning session we will have a devotional time, teaching sessions which will include Sunday school for the children and ministry celebration where both circuits will display some of their outstanding talents/gifts. The afternoon session which begins at 2pm includes fellowship time, Quiz and worship. Arrangements are still being finalized for the guest preacher and the other empowerment month activities.
Circuit Family Fun Day (May 01)
The second Circuit Fun Day will take place at the Arnos Vale sporting complex. The Day will be filled with fun and sporting activities for all ages. We worship in the chapel together, come let us worship with play and laughter together… outside the chapel as we build our community together. Food, drinks other goodies will be on sale.
Please remember these upcoming dates:
April 11 – Circuit Joint Councils Meeting – 5pm, Church Hall (All leaders and persons holding office)
April 14 – Palm Sunday and Palm Sunday Children’s Rally – Hope @ 3pm
April 15, 16, 17 – Holy week Monday to Wednesday – Congregational Open Air Services
April 18 – Two Zonal Holy Thursday Services of re-enactment, reflection, reconciliation and healing – At Kingstown and Westwood – 6pm
April 19 – Good Friday
April 21 – Easter Sunday
Rev. A. Davis