The Christian Coalition SVG which is a collaboration of various churches including but not limited to The Association of Evangelical Churches (PAWI, NTCG, Nazarene, Wesleyan, Prophesy et al), Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, Catholics, Spiritual Baptist. These Churches have come together with sounding a call to righteousness, Calling Our Nation to God. The highlight activity of this coalition is a March and Rally on November 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Rally is anticipated to start at 12.30 p.m. at Heritage square.
3 Areas of National Concern will be Highlighted:#1. The LBGTQ Challenge to the Buggery Laws of SVG
#2. Crime #3. The Family – Rape/Domestic Abuse
Among the activities is a March & Rally scheduled for Nov. 14th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The March will start simultaneously at GHS Bus Stop and Little Tokyo. It will culminate at Heritage Square.
All persons are asked to Dress in Plain, White T-Shirts/Polar Shirts or White Shop
Placards to be used will be prepared by the Committee.
There will be Prayer Stops along both routes at:Peace Memorial Hall, Financial Complex/Police Barracks, Rose Place, Grand Bazaar/Paul’s Avenue Junction, Court House
We are looking for over 20,000 people – Men, Women and Children to be involved.
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
To: ALL Ministers, Preachers, Leaders, Officers and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: May 16, 2020
RE: Aldersgate 2020
Greetings and Blessings brothers and sisters in Christ. This time of year has continued to be one of great significance for us as a church as we remember the foundation God used to build this Methodist movement. COVID-19 has stymied much of our preparations and celebrations despite the rare occurrence of the 4th Sunday being MAY 24, the day of John Wesley’s Conversion at Aldersgate Street. The National Council is however inviting all Methodist and friends to join in our adjusted and creative Aldersgate 2020 celebrations as we remember ‘from whence we came’ giving God thanks for the more than 280 years of Methodist witness. Please be guided by the following
- Sunday May 24 MORNING Worship in all congregations. This worship experience will be guided by a common order of service. As such while we will be in different places of worship (our home congregations) we will share a common experience of worship.
- May 24 ALDERSGATE Media Worship, 4.00 p.m. This Aldersgate service will be an “ONLINE” worship experience. This service will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook and also broadcast live on NBC Radio and SVG TV.
- Wednesday, May 27, 6.00 p.m. – ONLINE PANEL DISCUSSION on the topic “Security, Sanctity and Servitude in a COVID-19 environment”. This discussion will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube with the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. You can join the discussion either by using The Kingstown Methodist Church YouTube channel or the Facebook page named The Kingstown / Chateaubelair Methodist Churches.
- Saturday May 30 – Sunday 31, 24-HOUR PRAYER. Beginning at 12 noon on Saturday 30th to 12 noon Sunday 31st, we will join in prayer using the Zoom online platform. Log-in at any time and several times during this period and let us agree in prayer bringing to the Lord our many and various concerns particularly at this critical time of our life as a church, nation, region and world. We are also encouraging congregations to gather in their chapel (observing the usual protocols) for an hour or more and to indicate what time they will be meeting so those online can be aware that there are others also gathered and agreeing in prayer with them. LET US PRAY!!
Let me also use this opportunity to commend you for your faithfulness during this challenging time and remind you to check in on others, give them a word of encouragement. Remember our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Caribbean and the world especially those whose circumstance may be far more challenging than ours. PLEASE be deliberate in looking for needs within congregations such as students who may not have devices or other materials to facilitate their home learning and other ways to use our missionary and other resources and resourcefulness to continue making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. We are also arranging further assistance to our scholarship holders. As God guides may we discern and obey as we seek to be faithful to his call.
NB. Subsequent to the District General Purposes Committee Zoom meeting today, Saturday, May 16 it is hoped that Statutory Congregational and Circuit Meetings can be held by July 15 which includes the election of Circuit Stewards. Updates on our meetings will be communicated subsequently and as is reasonable.
Rev. A. Davis
To: ALL Ministers, Preachers, Leaders, Officers and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: April 04, 2020
Greetings and Blessings brothers and sisters in Christ.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, please give attention to the following:
- Worship continues. We will continue making every effort at holding worship as responsibly as possible.
- Please cooperate with the seating arrangements allowing for safe spacing except with households sitting together. Households are asked to sit together which should enable better management of the seat spacing. Congregations should be deliberate in having ushers to guide persons to seats.
- The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are strongly advised to be mindful of their vulnerability either by being very careful in attendance or choosing not to attend.
- Generally speaking, in light of the recent developments, we encourage all members to limit their movements, visits to supermarkets, banks and other such places as much as is reasonable. Please remember to practice careful hygiene.
- Our office staffing and hours will see some adjustments. Please exercise patience and understanding if there is any inconvenience.
- In the event that you are unable to attend worship, we continue to provide facilities for you to share in the worship experiences. Sunday Services are streamed live from the Kingstown Chapel, 7.00 am, available on the Kingstown Methodist Church YouTube channel. You can also tune in to WeFM 99.9 on Sundays at 9.00am. At our last meeting of the National Council on April 01, we began working towards other technological options for fellowship should the situation necessitate.
- For the Holy Week Services, preachers and congregations should bear in mind that these services can be approached with relative flexibility. Services do not have to be held every day. Whenever services are held, kindly be very deliberate in prayer as we continue to hold our nation and the world at large in prayer. PLEASE pray that our situation will not deteriorate and that God uses us as a unique witness to his grace and mercy.
- Our Preschools will not reopen on Monday April 06 as was previously scheduled.
As you share with those who may be pessimistic, consider our experiences with hurricanes. There are times when all the evidence indicates that a hurricane which hit others will hit us as well and sometimes with stronger force, yet at the last moment, miraculously the hurricane turns away and we are spared. Let us pray that this is again our testimony.
Rev. A. Davis
January 11, 2020
To: Superintendent Ministers
From: Rev. Derick A. Richards – District President
cc: Ministers & Congregations in the South Caribbean District
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ Head of the Church and Saviour of the world.
I trust that the Renewal Covenant was meaningful and life transforming experience for you. I wish for you personally and the congregations in the circuit every blessing for a Spirit filled, purposeful and productive year 2020.
The South Caribbean District Council will convene in the Beautiful island of Barbados from Friday 17th January to Monday 21st January 2020. This will be preceded by the South Caribbean District Ministerial Training Committee on Wednesday, 15th January 2020 and the South Caribbean District Ministerial Council on Thursday, 16th January, 2020. There will also be the Ordination for Rev. Greta St. Hill and Rev. Ann Yard on Sunday, 19th January 2020 at 4.30 p.m. at the Bethel Methodist Church, Bridgetown; Barbados.
The highlights of the South Caribbean District Conference will be:
- The discussion and adoption of the South Caribbean District Education Development Plan 2020 – 2025
- The reviewing of the Faith and Order Statements on Social and Ecclesiastical issues
- The examination of Probationers and of a Candidate to the Ministry
- The Ordination of Rev. Greta St. Hill and Rev. Ann Yard
I am requesting that:
- On Sunday, 12th January, 2020, special prayers be offered, in all churches throughout the District, for the South Caribbean District Council 2020 as we ask God’s guidance upon our proceedings and that God’s will be done throughout our deliberations and decision making.
- Sunday, 19th January 2020 be observed as a Day of Prayer for the South Caribbean District and for our island states within the District.
Derick A. Richards
To: Ministers, Leaders and Members
From: Circuit Superintendent
Date: January 11, 2020
Special instructions: Please note this memo ought not to be read word for word in the announcements. Stewards are expected to share the highlights.
and Blessings, Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
We give God thanks as a new year has begun with evidence of God’s faithfulness in the year past and his promises for the year to come.
Tomorrow, Sunday January 12 has been earmarked as another Class Sunday. It is intended that this Sunday will be an opportunity for members to sit in classes at best. Preachers or congregations can use this as an opportunity to encourage and promote the importance of the small group ministry.
Please remember that the Joint Circuit Council with the Circuit Pastoral Council meets Tomorrow, January 12, 4.00pm at the Church Hall. I am confident that you are aware that all persons holding positions of responsibility in the Circuit are encouraged to attend. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is, if you are wondering if you should be there then you should. The list includes; all class leaders and assistant leaders, congregational stewards, property and care fund stewards, preachers, mentees, officers of commissions, groups and organizations, elected representatives.
For those who are not yet aware, the Rev. Desmond Mason passed a couple of weeks ago and was buried on Wednesday 8, in St. Lucia. Rev. Mason, who is the brother-in-law of Sis Gillian John, served in both the Kingstown-Chateaubelair and Georgetown-Mt. Coke Circuits at different times in his ministry. He was 95 years old when he passed. Some may remember him from their confirmation or may have seen his name on their baptismal certificate while others may share other memories of his ministry. It is our practice that the funeral is preceded by a special meeting of the District Ministerial session where the obituary is received. All superintendents of the South Caribbean District attended the funeral.
Some of you may be familiar with Bro Noah Kumi from Ghana who served for a short while in the Georgetown-Mt Coke Circuit as lay evangelist. Shortly after arriving here he took ill and after some recovery returned to Ghana. We received news a couple of days ago informing that he has passed.
Do remember both families in prayer.
Annual New Year’s Concert
Our grand, wonderful, uplifting and inspiring annual New Year’s concert will take place on 26th January 2020 at the Kingstown Methodist Church from 4:30 pm, under the theme: It’s your season count it all joy. Tickets are available in each congregation. Please make a special effect to support and promote the concert. We are keen on having not only our Methodists members but non-Methodists as well. This is not a concert for us only. I encourage you to share via WhatsApp and other social media the promotional flyer and video attached.
Youth Fest 2020
The Youth and Young Adult Commission introduces a revamped Youth Month this year. This new approach will take off with a launch of Youth fest 2020 on 18th January, 5:30 pm. This launch includes a March from Heritage Square to The Old Treasury Building Car Park. We are inviting all to join in the march wearing white. The march ends with presentations by our youth, including the Rooted Dance Ministry and a time of singing and the Word.
Have you ever visited our website, Facebook page or YouTube channel? Make a special effort to do so and to promote our online presence. You can also share the link to the sermons and worship services with your friends – sharing the word with them may be a blessing in their lives in a manner you never anticipated.
Website – http://kingchatmethodist.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KingChatMethodist/
Please remember the meeting of the South Caribbean District Council in prayer. Council runs from Tuesday 14 to Monday 20. In addition to the Superintendent, those attending include, Bro Nigel Scott who is a member of the Ministerial Training Committee, Bros Kingsley Duncan, Circuit Steward and Bro Elson Samuel, Lay representative. Rev Smith will also be attending to meet with the Ministerial Training Committee as a missionary in the District.
Your in Christ Service
Rev. A. Davis
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Phil 2.5)
One of the most telling truths about humanity is that we are all influenced by one another. Simply put, we are social beings. What this also means is that we have role models, we follow examples and we walk in someone else’s footsteps. The Bible presents Christ as our perfect example, best role model and the one whose footsteps we ought to walk in (Eph 5.1-2, 1 Cor 11.1). This is the substance of Paul’s counsel here in Philippians “let the same mind be in you that that was in Christ Jesus.” In one sense we can understand this to be a reflection on our mind/thinking; in view of the fact that our mind shapes everything about us. The reason Solomon advised “as a man thinketh so is he” (Prov 23.7 paraphrased). Alternately and denotatively, mind here is understood as attitude, not just thought process but how that thought process harmonizes and interplays with our behaviour and our response to a given stimuli.
Jesus’ mind-attitude is epitomized (best reflected) in the incarnation. It is described as “humble”. This is not simply a disposition or ‘personality trait’ equal to ‘easy going’. This is a choice made which includes selflessness (do nothing out of selfish ambition – vs. 3), seeing great value in others (“regard others as better than yourselves – vs. 3) and giving priority to the needs of others (look not to your own interest but to the interests of others – vs 4). Humility is also about how we respond to unfavourable situations since the word humility in itself is from the same root as humiliate. This humility was the foundation of Paul saying “therefore God highly exalted him…” It is a triumphant, overcoming, revolutionary type humility. This is the story of Jesus. God uses an unknown girl, a cattle pen, an insignificant village and shepherds as key components of the most revolutionary and victorious life to have every walked this earth.
This highly exalted, triumphant message born at Christmas is grounded in the principle of humility advocating for a certain kind of selflessness. This is not simply putting others before you, rather, this humility is about being invested in the other person’s relationship with God. Putting them first towards them honouring God in their life. Jesus humbled himself to be a slave, the ultimate servant that we may be reconciled to God. This challenges us to see the worth in others, a worth is not based on the certificates and accolades they received, nor is worth primarily based on the fact that we are humans – mortal beings of flesh and blood. Our worth is in and through and because of God. Recognizing the worth of all human beings is and ought to be grounded in a deep appreciation that we are all made in God’s image and likeness and that God’s very breath is in us, we are all His children, in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17.28). We must therefore aggressively reject any effort to define human worth by physical or material accomplishment, by intellect or wit or by any national or international institution. While institutions have their place and value human worth is neither because a constitution so declares or any treaty so requires. The worth of every Vincentian whether we are signed on to an international treaty or not is inalienable. This is a good time for us to see one another because we all matter and remember simple virtues such as hi and hello, good morning and good evening. It is a good time for us remember the good Samaritan, who needed no name, nor identification, no family history but cared for the next person just because here was a child of God in need. This is a good time to remember that the tourist and the local alike are all people of worth, children of God. This is a good time to remember that the person in a mansion and the homeless on the street are all people of worth, children of God. This is a good time to remember the employer and business man and the employee and unemployed are all people of worth, Children of God. Such is our worth that Jesus made an amazing sacrifice, leaving the glory of eternity, becoming moral just for you and me.
This matter of our worth also challenges us to raise question about issues regarding our women and children. The stories of abuse and rape prompt our consideration of the matter of worth. We must resist the many activities that, in effect, demean our women and treat our children merely as commodities. Our world continues to wrestle with the problem of Trafficking of Persons and St Vincent and the Grenadines needs to do due diligence to ensure that we do not add to the narrative. We must challenge our business places who believe a scantily clad young woman is the best lure or advertisement for their product. We must challenge bosses, employers and other senior personnel who lure women into offering themselves for favours. We must continue to cry foul to our van drivers and our entertainers who use music and various art forms to present the woman as a sex object. We must speak up and speak out when we learn of neighbours or villagers who seek to destroy the innocence of our children. If we do not together work towards protecting our children, giving them a strong sense of security and an assurance that we are a nation, that’s there for them, we may well say to them that they are of little worth, contributing to destroying their self-esteem. The worth of our children is at risk as they are exposed to ideas and philosophies that devalue them by instructing and indoctrinating them into believing that they are simply what they feel, and that God did not make them male or female, rather they must figure out which of more than 100 possibilities they are. The worth of our young people is at risk when we devalue them by teaching that they have no control, no power over their body and sexual appetite so just “protect yourself”. The worth of our people in this nation has been compromised by an annual festival that encourages and celebrates no restraint, vulgarity, nudity, indulgence and bad behaviour. The incarnation tells us of our worth as Jesus sacrificed himself that we may become reconciled with God, possible only when we are willing to turn from sin.
This humility Jesus exemplified at Christmas woos us to become persons who are invested in responding to the need of others. This is not about people pleasing, neither is it simply about being do-gooders rather it is looking after their interest, their best interest. It is seeking to reconcile others to God – their greatest need. In so doing we work towards the other experiencing the fullness of life as God desires. This therefore is a call for neighbourliness. It is being deliberately invested in the wellbeing of the next person. This is challenging at a time when “mind your own business” is a common mantra. The call for neighbourliness challenges us at this time of gift-giving, when it seems we care, to be deliberate in our thoughts towards the other. It forces us to candidly reject the folly of tribal politics which can at times see someone celebrating the demise of the next person simply because they are on a different side of the political divide. Rejecting the kind of tribalism which may even manifest itself when the funeral of the die-hard of one party – however outstanding a person they were – sees a noticeable absence of persons from “the other side”. This neighbourliness is the kind that must see us leaving our spaces of comfort and convenience to encourage and support those who are hurting and struggling. This kind of neighbourliness encourages us to be more responsible with the stories we hear and our readiness to spread them without getting the facts. We must consider the lives that will be affected. It is the kind of neighbourliness that challenges our use of social media and encourages our talk show personalities and radio programs to be more invested in the advancement of people’s lives than ratings and popularity.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. This humility we celebrate at Christmas is that we must also aspire to collectively and individually exemplify. It is this humility that sees God highly exalting. It suggests that the future of SVG can be tremendously advanced if we are to learn a fundamental Christmas lesson in humility and let the mind that was in Christ be also in us.
Message by the Christian Council of St. Vincent & the Grenadines