VI has placed God on the backburner –Pastor Walter D. Barrett
Mr Walter D. Barrett, Pastor at the New Life Baptist Church, in an exclusive interview with Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) on Friday April 14, 2017, said he believes that there are too many instances where the church should make a stand on that they are not, such as homosexuality, crime, injustice from the point of view of oppression, including the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival that officially begins today.
He also made it clear that his views are his own and does not represent any religious organisation.
Church has become silent
“I think that a lot of times as pastors and churches, we kind of take a passive approach to things that we need to take a stand on,” he said. “The church is not there to uphold or create controversy, but when there is controversy, the church is there to direct persons back to what ‘thus sayeth the lord is’,” he said.
“We need to as the church on a whole, be able to speak out on matters that are not necessarily controversial per se but matters that when we are expected to make a stand as a church and make a sound as a church, a lot of times you get silenced. Now in these little circles, you hear persons talk and say ‘how come we never said anything about this or that?’ There is no voice. The church has become silent,” he bemoaned.
There is a problem
According to him, his remarks stemmed from an article on BVI Platinum News, where two pastors were interviewed and in a nutshell said they had no objections to the annual festival, which is in its 50th year, being held one day following Easter Friday, and ending on Easter Monday.
“Easter is definitely one of those seasons and times that the world recognises, and to down play it and to have competing secular activities around that time. I think the church needs to say “yeah there is a problem”. We need to recognise who we are,” he insisted.
God placed on the back burner
He said the VI, despite being a Christian nation, has placed God on the back burner.
“Where is god? How can we put God on a back burner, celebrate secular stuff that doesn’t really look at the history of the Virgin Islands or anything?”
Put aside fear
It is “an open secret” that the church and state has become so interwoven into each other, from being spiritual advisors and counsellors to politicians, to funding the church’s activities and donations.
When asked about the possible hesitance on the part of the church to “rock the boat”, he responded that at the end of the day as a Christian, your allegiance is not to man but God, and one’s stand should be for the almighty.
“…but if state contradicts God, then you have to put aside any fear of what man may do and do what God expects you to do.”
Church has blurred many lines
When further questioned on the reason why he believes the church is being so silent, he said that the church and the world are almost twins.
“Honestly I think that a lot of churches don’t even know what their stance is. I think we have blurred a lot of lines that think the church is looking so much like the world sometimes, so to pull back and to jump back into being the church it is kind of hypocritical. There is a fear of people won’t take us seriously so we just sit very quietly in our corners and play it safe,” he remarked.
More Pastor Cline’s needed
An interview like this could not be complete without pointing to the recent fiasco with another fellow man of the cloth-Pastor John I. Cline- who was sacked for speaking his views and the possible if any repercussions it could have had, or is having on the church’s already timid voice.
His response? Take a leaf out of Pastor Cline’s book, who knew that God would have taken care of him in every situation.
“I think right across the board, that’s how our religious leaders and our churches need to be. There should not be a fear of being chastised or being oppressed.”
He said persons need to speak out despite knowing that the majority would not be in your favour.
“I speak out”
We also wanted to know why his voice was not heard in the areas mentioned.
“I speak out, I work at the Prison, I speak out in the areas that I am in, I speak out in the church, I speak out in the community, on the streets, I speak out in the courts. I speak out where I am present. This was an issue that I read in an article. I read the passive response as far as I am concerned and it was one that prompted me and I think it warranted some sort of response.