The St Michael Centre for Faith and Action, a think-tank launched a year ago by the Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels as an innovative addition to its ministry to the city and country, is reporting a generally successful first year following a review of its inaugural programme agenda by the Board of Trustees.
“Our first year can be summed up as an encouraging year of growth, consolidation and general awareness- building in which we achieved some key objectives and delivered on a number of some important initiatives, despite operating with very limited resources,”said Board of Trustees chairman and Dean of the Cathedral, The Very Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Gibson.
He added: “Perhaps our sole disappointment was not achieving the target we had set for our fund-raising that would have allowed us do more in response to needs which are quite evident. We recognize, however, that the environment was not conducive as almost every potential donor was watching their spend because of the uncertain economic situation which, we pray, will improve over the coming year.”
Successes included the well-attended inaugural Dean’s Lecture that was delivered bySir Trevor Carmichael, the patron of the St Michael Centre, at the Frank Collymore Hall in February. Sir Trevor, a prominent attorney-at-law, philanthropist and former Independent Senator, provided a comprehensive examination of the pioneering role and significant contribution of the Anglican church to the development of public education in Barbados.
In response to heightened public concern over a worrying spike in gun-related crime and violence last year, the centre also convened an all-day retreat at Codrington College in a bid to gain a better understanding of underlying issues contributing to the problem. The aim was to come up with an appropriate set of interventions targeting vulnerable and at risk youth in particular. Unfortunately, implementation was hampered by a lack of resources.
The eye-opening session heard presentations from a number of resource persons with relevant expertise and experience. They included a criminologist, a social worker with experience supporting at risk youth, and a law enforcement officer. The Centre plans to make a submission to an international donor this year in the hope of sourcing resources to implement its plan which will provide opportunities and give hope to persons at risk of becoming involved in criminal activity.
In a social outreach initiative during the Christmas season, the centre hosted a reception for 25 persons, mostly elderly and some of whom are homeless, who tend to congregate most days in the vicinity of the Cathedral. They welcomed the gesture and some took the opportunity to share their personal stories. As more resources become available, the centre plans to increase such support as needs are great.
The centre’s first anniversary was marked with a special celebration of the traditional Anglican service ofEvensong in the Cathedral on Sunday, June 10. Delivering the sermon, Rev. Dr Von Watson, priest-in- charge of the Church of St Luke, noted Barbados, the Caribbean and the world were going through a period of fundamental change taking place at the political, economic and social levels.
These circumstances, he said, provided “a unique opportunity” for the church, as “the body of Christ”, to exercise “leadership for enlightenment” through engaging other stakeholders in dialogue and offering a view which would be helpful in charting a “brighter way forward”. “If there is one non-pulpit institution that can help us and help the region and those beyond, it is the St Michael Centre for Faith and Action,” hesaid.
Established as a charity under the laws of Barbados, the St Michael Centre’s problem-solving mandate places emphasis on the promotion of public education and social outreach. Membership, at $25, is open to anyone with an interest in the Centre’s work. Corporate contributions are welcome and can be claimed for tax purposes. (PR)