St Mary de­nounces crime, host prayer vigil

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Orantes Moore Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

PORT MARIA, St Mary: ON TUES­DAY night, vic­tims of crime, their fam­i­lies, and dozens of lo­cal res­i­dents packed into the Hi-Lo car park in Port Maria, St Mary, for a two-hour prayer vigil hosted by the St Mary Min­is­ters of Churches along­side the lo­cal po­lice.

The event, which ran un­der the theme: ‘Stand­ing in the Gap for Peace: A Call for In­ter­ces­sion’ was at­tended by sev­eral vic­tims of crime, in­clud­ing Terri Ni­chols, the wife of US mis­sion­ary Harold Ni­chols, who was bru­tally mur­dered in St Mary eight months ago.

Ac­cord­ing to the as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner of po­lice in charge of Area Two, Fitz Bai­ley, the pur­pose of the vigil Dr Monique Guy of­fers a prayer for schools and stu­dents dur­ing a prayer vigil in the Hi-Lo Car Park in Port Maria, St Mary.

was to unite the peo­ple of the parish and help them de­velop a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with the po­lice through Chris­tian­ity.

Speak­ing dur­ing the ser­vice, The Rev­erend Oral Camp­bell of the Emanuel Bap­tist Church prays for vic­tims of crime dur­ing a prayer vigil hosted ear­lier this week by lo­cal churches and the po­lice in Port Maria, St Mary. Bai­ley told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion: “The Com­mu­nity Safety and Se­cu­rity Branch has brought the Church to­gether and the idea is to try and get peo­ple to un­der­stand that crime and vi­o­lence is ev­ery­body’s busi­ness, and we be­lieve the Church has a crit­i­cal role to play in terms of as­sist­ing the se­cu­rity forces in their crime-re­duc­tion strat­egy.

“Also, I be­lieve there is a higher power than our­selves and from time to time, we must seek di­rec­tion. This com­ing to­gether is re­ally to pray, forge part­ner­ships, and send the sig­nal that we as a peo­ple are united against those who con­tinue to per­pe­trate crime.”

The vigil fea­tured prayers, praise, and wor­ship de­liv­ered by pas­tors from sev­eral churches, in­clud­ing the St Mary Parish Church, the Emanuel Bap­tist Church, the Em­manuel United Church, Love and Faith Min­istries, the Pen­te­costal Church of God, and the Sal­va­tion Army.

IN­TE­GRAL TO PO­LICE PLAN

Bai­ley, who took up the po­si­tion of Area Two com­man­der ear­lier this month, in­sists that churches are an in­te­gral el­e­ment in the po­lice’s plan to tar­get crim­i­nals be­cause their reach is both in­flu­en­tial and ex­ten­sive. He said: “The churches are very im­por­tant be­cause if you look at the churches in the area, you have fam­ily mem­bers who are vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors of crime.

“If we can get them to buy into the pro­gramme, they will go back to their churches with a mes­sage that can reach vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors of crime. We want a zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach to crime and to harden our­selves against those who seek to per­pe­trate. We want to say to them: ‘We’re not go­ing to tol­er­ate this, and if we know who you are, we are go­ing to ex­pose you.’

“We want the Church and the cit­i­zens to be­come sen­si­tive to the re­al­ity and im­pact of crime be­cause it’s only a few peo­ple who ben­e­fit. Although the fam­ily of the per­pe­tra­tors may get some easy money, at the end of the day, it’s not worth it, and that’s the mes­sage we are try­ing to bring across. Crime is a de­vel­op­men­tal is­sue and a so­ci­etal prob­lem. It’s not just a prob­lem for the po­lice; it’s a prob­lem for ev­ery­body, and we need peo­ple to un­der­stand that they have a role to play.”

PHO­TOS BY ORANTES MOORE

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