Bishop: Sunday school can save young men

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley. – File photo

ANGLICAN Bishop Claude Berkley believes having more young men in Sunday school could alter mindsets of coming generations and help to change Trinidad and Tobago.

Berkley made the suggestion at the opening service of the 151st Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago held at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Harris Promenade, San Fernando on June 5.

The synod is a special council of members of a church which meets regularly to discuss religious issues.

This was one of several suggestions given by Berkley in response to the practical things the church could do as an answer to the number of problems the country currently faces.

The synod ran from June 5-8. Its theme was Reimagining mission: Changing the paradigm.

Chief Justice Ivor Archie, former President Paula-Mae Weekes and Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher were among the guests at the opening service.

The synod must speak to any known areas of weakness and strive to put policies in place to guide the process of a strong discipleship and maximum output, Berkley said.

He said there was an ongoing list of issues that reoccur: disrespect for office and authority, the constitution, canons and regulations; increasing decline in volunteerism; self hate; deep distrust and subversion; unrealistic expectations and application; diminishing commitment and loyalty; a determined and shameless undermining of institutional principles and a tendency to promote form over substance.

“But the synod must also consider how the church can assist the State in many battles which affect us all as a nation.

“What input can we make?” he said.

The brazen character of criminal assaults even in public institutions took crime and violence to another level, Berkley added.

The murder rate, the proliferation of gun-related crimes, the weakening of the family structure, school violence and dysfunction in many instances were at the root of much of Trinidad and Tobago’s challenges and were serious challenges for everyone, Berkley said.

He said the church should try to identify the practical inputs it could make to contribute to the greater good.

“I think if we were able to get more young men into Sunday school at the right age we might defer or deter some of the callousness that has built,” he said.

Sunday school, as boring as it might appear, told another story, gave a different perspective and set the individual’s mind in another kind of frame, he said.

“And something would appeal, and it is what we can do,” Berkley said.

Berkley said the synod’s theme was apt especially when it was agreed that the current casual approach might not be adequate.

To do this, teamwork built on love, commitment, obedience and trust in Jesus Christ was required, Berkley said. He also said the synod should address whether the church was operating at optimum levels and if it could be more focused.