As Vincentians in New York on Sunday began celebrating their 39th anniversary of political independence from Great Britain, a native clergyman in Brooklyn is appealing to his compatriots to restore the moral fabric of the nation.
In delivering the sermon at an Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving, at The Church of St. Mark, Episcopal, on Union Street in Brooklyn, Bishop Dr. Kenroy A. Cuffy, pastor of Judah Worship Center, on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, said that “we all will agree that it is an independence that finds our country facing many challenges both domestically and internationally.
“While our nation’s government may be doing everything in its power to keep us afloat economically, and religious leaders are sounding the trumpet for our nation to remain a God-fearing one, one cannot help but notice the moral fabric of our nation is depleting slowly,” said Cuffy at the Independence Church Service, organized by the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO).
“Let me hasten to add, that while this seem to be the trend of even more developed nations, we cannot allow the culture of other nations to dictate and change the culture of our blessed land,” added Bishop Cuffy, speaking on the theme, “A Divine Proposal,” at the service held under the auspices of the New York Consulate General.
“I believe that it is imperative that we take into consideration that the responsibility and obligation are ours to make our nation a beacon of hope and remain the Gem of the Antilles,” continued Bishop Cuffy, whose text was taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14.
The scripture, which was first read in the church service by Dr. Roxie Irish, the Vincentian-born Youth Minister at Miracle Temple Ministries in Brownsville, Brooklyn, reads: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Bishop Cuffy said that, lately, he has found himself quoting from the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, “which I think is extremely appropriate here.
“’We are what we repeatedly do; therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit,’” he said. “We become what we practice most.
“If, as Vincentians, we practice the morals of the good old days, things will be alright,” Dr. Cuffy preached. “I’m talking about the days, when we genuinely loved our neighbor, when somebody’s child was everybody’s child. When we shared and looked out for the interest of each other. When politics did not make us enemies, and when Vincentians feared God. How about those good old days?”
He said 2 Chronicles 7:14 was “appropriate for an occasion as this one, and I hope that it will be heard throughout our nation by all who are concerned.”
He said the verse, labeled “A Divine Proposal,” forms what he said is probably the best known and most loved verses in all of Chronicles.
“The verse expresses first and foremost ownership, secondly identity and thirdly a stipulation or proposal God lays down for a nation to experience His blessing,” Pastor Cuffy said.
“And may I add, whether that nation be that of Solomon, or Ezra, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or the United States of America, the message is simply this: Those whom God identifies as His own must turn from living lives of proud self-centeredness, pray to the Lord, and yield their desires to His word and His will,” he added.
“Then, and only then, will He grant the abundance of release that He has promised,” Cuffy continued. “And I have no doubts in my heart that God has declared his ownership of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
“Let me submit to us, without any apology, that the situations and issues affecting our nation cannot be solved by human means,” he said. “Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, we need a divine intervention to bring our country back to being a God-fearing, Christian nation.”
Throughout the near three-hour-long service, prayers were said for the United States (the Rev. Claudius Davis, of the Church of Christ, Brooklyn); the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (the Rev. Dr. Lincoln Creese, of New Millennium Tabernacle of Praise); the youth (Bishop Robert Yearwood, of I Am The Way Mt. Sinai); peace and reconciliation (Mrs. Ancilla Friday, of St. Paul’s in The Village of Flatbush); and thanksgiving (the Rev. Wilmouth Seaton, of New Life Ministries), among others.
Besides St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Consul General Howie Prince, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Consular Corps was represented by representatives from Belize (Herman Longsworth), St. Lucia (Victoria Bousquet) and the Bahamas (Larry Cartwright).
COSAGO president Laverne McDowald-Thompson said she was proud that Vincentian nationals in the Diaspora “continue to foster close bond with St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“This celebration gives us the opportunity to look back,” she added. “Looking back today, I am sure our hearts are filled with much thanksgiving.”
The independence anniversary celebrations climax on Sunday with a COSAGO-organized gala Luncheon and Awards Ceremony at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.