Opening Prayer 18 May 2011

Welcome by the general secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) Gerard Granado

My dear Friends in Christ,

As the general secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), mine is the honour and the blessing to welcome you very warmly to the Caribbean Region. 

It is just about two years ago that, on behalf of the CCC, I co-authored and signed a letter with Rev. Gary Harriott, which was sent to the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee inviting them to hold this event in the Caribbean and specifically in Jamaica; and, like a dream come true, here we are today!

As you may know, by virtue of its membership, the Caribbean Conference of Churches embraces all four linguistic groups of the Region – viz. the Dutch, English, French and Spanish – speaking Caribbean.   The CCC has been working for almost 40 years to improve the quality of life of the peoples of the Region.

I am aware that for many of you this is your first visit to our beloved Region.  For some, it is the first contact with the Anglophone Caribbean; for others, it is yet another of several visits over the years.  To which ever group you belong: “Welkom; Welcome; Bienvenus; Bienvenidos!”

Welcome to this Region that is probably best known for sea and sun, frolic and fun; but not known enough for its people’s history of struggle, stamina and solidarity.

The struggle of which I speak is our people’s ongoing struggle of six centuries for survival, security and sustainability.  It is a struggle in defence of live;   for the affirmation of human dignity; and in the quest for self-determination.  Essentially, then, it is a struggle for a “Just Peace”.

The shores that welcomed you with hospitality, received our ancestors with hostility.  The colonial enterprise that fashioned the contemporary Caribbean reality, is one that cannot be described as anything other than violent, and one which – in no small measure – has impacted the collective psyche of our people.  It is also a process, the basic structure of which still remains in place given the existing world economic order.  As one of the eminent sons of the Region – the economist George Beckford – has said:  “the actors have changed, but the play has remained the same.”

Yes, dear Friends, there is pain in paradise!  But there is also potential and possibility!

It is my hope that over the course of this convocation, you will be able to glean some of the learnings that emerge from our people’s historical struggle for a “Just Peace.”  I want to suggest that such learnings can be gleaned, not just in your formal sessions, but even as you savour of the food, music, customs and other cultural forms, much of which reflects the resilience and creativity with which our people’s have responded to a dehumanizing historical process.

My dear Friends, ours has not been merely a decade in overcoming violence – it has been six centuries and counting.

It is my prayer for you that, as you journey together over the next few days, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, you will encounter the Crucified and Risen One in the stories of those who have shared in the violence of His Cross and in the Hope of His Resurrection.

May God bless you all and your deliberations.