Church fundamental to development, advancement of Guyana – Pres Ali to Christian leaders

President Dr Irfaan Ali has reminded the church of the important role it has to play as the Government’s partner in achieving ‘One Guyana’, while at the same time pledging to do his part to dismantle racism and discrimination.

President Dr Irfaan Ali (front, centre), flanked by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill (left) and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond, with the church leaders

The meeting with the President, which took place on Tuesday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), saw dozens of Christian leaders – both locally based and members of the diaspora – in attendance.
President Ali used the opportunity to remind the church of the interconnecting role state and church have to play in Guyana’s development. He noted that under the banner of ‘One Guyana’, the country can truly be transformed.
“There is a great opportunity for us to fuse ourselves together. I see the church as fundamental to the development and advancement of our country. Today, I am very pleased to be here and to say to you that this should be the beginning of a system of interaction and communication to create a pathway,” he said.
According to President Ali, the ‘One Guyana’ initiative extends beyond healing and unity, to ensuring that the well-being of every single individual is taken care of. This, according to the President, will allow all Guyanese to lead meaningful lives.
The President also pointed out to the church that Guyanese are desirous of living in harmony and in peace, adding that in every single community across the country, there is a desire to achieve national unity.
Meanwhile, Pastor Ejaz Nabie explained that the meeting was aimed at discussing the President’s vision for ‘One Guyana’ and unity with a specific focus on the role of the church in addressing racism, reconciliation and nation building.
Following the discussion, the religious leaders commended President Ali’s vision of the ‘One Guyana’ initiative and acknowledged the importance of the dialogue. They also pledged collectively to do their part in promoting unity.
The President was accompanied by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill; and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond, at the meeting.
One critical area in which religious leaders have been engaged or will be engaged by the Government, is the school system. After two incidents of violence in schools over the course of just two days, Education Minister Priya Manickchand had announced that the Ministry will be taking a holistic approach to address the situation on a long-term basis.
The approach will see the involvement of the Guyana Police Force, including the Community Policing Group, as well as religious leaders in the respective communities. Minister Manickchand had related that while students need to be educated, any unruly behaviour which affects teachers and other students will not be accepted.
Religious leaders have also been engaged on crime issues by the Police. Only a few months ago, Regional Commander Simon McBean met with several pastors from various denominations at the Love and Faith Ministry in Sophia.
During the meeting, it was pointed out that traditional policing – the law enforcement approach that focuses on arrests – while a popular policing tactic to help fight crime around the world, will not be an effective tool in fighting crime in their community.
Instead, the religious leaders suggested that social cohesion is needed to mitigate crime in the community of Sophia and not “traditional policing”. (G3)