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‘We must be of one mind’ to defeat Covid – Anglican bishop at National Day of Prayer

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

Religious leaders offered prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God for blessings bestowed and asked for healing and protection on the National Day of Prayer Sunday, May 23.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called the day of prayer as the number of infections and deaths from the virus continued to rise. Up to May 23 there were more than 19,000 infections and over 300 deaths.

Delivering a sermon, Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley highlighted the Feast of Pentecost observed by Christians that Sunday as he rallied citizens to unity. “Today’s story calls us to be in one place, of one mind, so to speak, as we engage unity of purpose and our immediate need is to defeat this terrible enemy that is upon us, and we can do it.”

He said the disciples showed obedience when they listened to Jesus’ instruction to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.

Bishop Berkley said obedience remains important and consequential for the good or bad that will result. He added, “So the present context calls us to strict obedience as we respond to the strategies outlined for overcoming the virus among us and for instilling new hope and confidence as a blessed community of love.”

As God sent His message to multi-racial, multi-ethnic people and all humanity needed to listen and respond, he said this was concurrent with the present experience. Bishop Berkley said, “God is working a salvation process among us, otherwise things could have been worse, but He has sustained us.”

On the National Day of Prayer and celebration of Pentecost, Bishop Berkley called for “unity of purpose, to obedience to God, in this national effort and to give a witness that is transformative, redeeming and fulfilling, in this fight against Covid.”

He asked the public to commit to a widespread and sustained communication process with a view to countering misunderstanding, myths, falsehoods, and mischief, and to remount a new and consolidated, unified assault on Covid-19 to save sweet T&T. Bishop Berkley asked citizens to respond with urgency and positively.


God will change hearts

Archbishop Jason Gordon said people asked him why another National Day of Prayer was taking place. A Day of Prayer was held August 2 last year. Mentioning the 1970 Black Power Movement and 1990 attempted coup, he said it was the third time in the nation’s history that it was facing a crisis. The state of emergency was not because of an insurrection but because of Covid-19.

He commented, “because we the people of this nation have not found the discipline to find the way to live in this time.” Providing a few reasons for the necessity of prayer, he said people had to humble themselves “to do that we need to, listen to the Almighty”.

Prayer was needed for wisdom to know how to live together and find the path through the pandemic to prosperity, and to ask mercy for doing wrong and not living as God asked.

“We have not been our brother’s and sister’s keeper and we have not been for each other a people of hope and people who put the welfare of all before my own good,” the Archbishop said.

“Let us bow our heads and pray that God may hear our call; not that God may change His mind, that God will change our hearts, that we will become the kind of citizens that will allow this nation to flourish through this pandemic and become stronger, brighter and better.”

The Prime Minister quoted the opening words of the Republican Constitution, August 1, 1976 saying it was the foundation of the day of prayer, “a nation that acknowledges God at its inception.” He quoted Proverbs 18:10 and Psalm 57:1.

Prayers were offered by representatives of the Methodist, Orisha, Spiritual Baptist, Moravian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Ethiopian Orthodox, Presbyterian, Muslim, and Hindu faiths.

In a recorded message President Paula-Mae Weekes said to repel the virus, persons had to be more than just their brother’s keeper. They also had to be keepers of “grannies”, neighbours, colleagues, grocers, taxi drivers, fellow passengers, the “valiant, long suffering and exhausted health workers” and even strangers.