ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Men and women of the cloth representing various denominations came together yesterday to mull and discuss the church’s role in confronting the numerous challenges affecting the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
The gathering at the Jolly Beach Resort brought together religious leaders such as Rastafarians, Muslims, Christians, and other Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) along with parliamentarians from around the region.
The event was the brainchild of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who in January called for an inter-faith conference to be held to highlight the church’s role in the decision-making process.
During his official remarks yesterday, he was keen on reminding the audience that the church is indeed important to the regional bloc and the five-year strategic plan now being developed by the regional heads.
“Today I call on faith-based organisations to partner with governments in addressing issues. Civil society, however, must also play its full part. Together we can accomplish much for our societies,” Spencer said.
The PM also recommended the establishment of a regional mechanism operated by FBOs aimed at addressing the issues of the less fortunate in the region, including poverty.
Caricom Chairman Dr Ralph Gonsalves was also on hand to address the one-day conference.
He explained that the commencement of the meeting is the first in a series of steps taken to address the troubling issues plaguing the community.
He also viewed the event as a way of increasing co-operation among the religious community and the heads of government.
The aim of the conference, according to organisers, is to re-ignite the spirit of fellowship among the Community’s religious leaders, and develop a framework for a regional consultative process to facilitate appropriate engagement of FBOs in the decision-making progress.
The Caricom Inter-faith Conference also sought to form an organisation to tackle hunger and poverty across the community.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)