The service, which was to be held at the Charlestown Methodist Church, was billed as a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting that was to be hosted by a committee chaired by Mrs Patricia Hanley. Two members of the said committee had broached to Premier Parry the idea of observing a day of prayer.
The Good Book, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, guides humanity on how to maintain the best relationship with its Maker: “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 I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
The Good Book says all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No one is without sin. The invitation was sent to all Nevisians and residents. However, immediately the invitations were received, a section of Nevisians disregarded what was a calling by the Maker and recoiled into political cocoons where only those opposite them sin. The CCM, through Press Secretary Mervin Hanley, quickly issued a press statement which even left their members flabbergasted.
“As a Party founded on Christian principles which has always had as its core belief a sense of decency and morality, the CCM and its supporters continue to seek justice and the preservation of law and order. As a Party, we recognise that we always need to invoke God’s divine intervention,” stated Mr Hanley in part.
That is precisely what the Premier was asking Nevisians to do. But because the call was first made by the Nevis Island Administration, which is led by the Nevis Reformation Party, Mr Hanley said that CCM would not take part in the day of prayer. God is the Author of all democratic principles known to man, and He never forces anyone to worship Him.
Reading between the lines, even the blind can decipher the message. The CCM, citing what they termed as injustice, saw Parry’s call to prayer as being the proverbial olive branch. But they refused to accept it because the colour of an olive branch is green. Fresh olive branches have never been known to have any other colour but green.
Not all Nevisians listened to the CCM. Immediately the information hit the internet, a Nevisian of goodwill, Manhattan-based lawyer, Mr Carl Nisbett appealed to all Nevisians to heed to Premier Parry’s request. The following was his appeal, which was posted on the SKN list on Saturday April 14:
“I certainly hope all Nevisians and Kittitians join in the prayer and fasting (if they are able to) at home and abroad. I will join as one.
“I believe God answers prayers. He may not always answer the way we wish but He does answer. He is not a respecter of persons so it matters not who calls for the prayer and fasting. It matters not the political affiliation or such schisms.
“I believe it is enough that we seek His guidance in prayers and supplications and the islands will be better off for it.
“We’ve become too heavy laden with debt and with divisiveness and the divisiveness is on all sides and the debt burden is borne by all.
“Seeking forgiveness is biblical. Those who suggest otherwise have made themselves to be more knowledgeable than God.
“Here in New York on Monday, I will stand in solidarity both in prayer and fasting for the good of our island.
“I have no political party in prayer. There is God and one Nevis so I will join with my fellow Nevisians in entreating Him to heal our land in His way.”
The day Monday April 16 was observed by a large section of Nevisians and residents, and Nevisians in the Diaspora as a day of prayer and fasting. The climax was the service officiated by Pastor Dalton Grenyion at the Charlestown Methodist Church.
The fact that the day was observed as Premier Parry had requested of his people, it did not go very well with CCM sympathisers. On Tuesday (April 17) evening Senior Lawyer Theodore Hobson boasted on the Let’s Talk programme on Voice of Nevis (VON) Radio: “And I am not quite sure what happened at the prayer and fasting. I certainly had my breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
But having said he was not sure what happened at the prayer and fasting session, he went ahead to shoot himself in the foot by admitting that he had gathered some information: “When I asked about how people turned up at the church they tell me very badly attended, so I do not know. Mr Stanley, I know you are a very religious person, did you go?”
“Unfortunately I forgot,” replied the temporary programme host Mr Edric Stanley. “It was mentioned at our Church on Sunday (April 15) and honestly I would have been there if I had remembered. Monday I had a lot of things to do and by the time the afternoon came, I went back home a little tired and I completely forgot, but I would have been there.”
He told his colleagues on the programme and listeners alike that he had heard that it was a national church service “to bring healing to our country. Only this morning on the news I heard that it was organised by the NRP, but in my view, I would have gone anyway. Barring NRP, I would have gone simply because it was a spiritual gathering.
“I am a church person and wherever church service is, and I have the time, I will attend. I can always compute my own way of disassociating or associating in whatever way or justifying my presence or my absence. But as I said, if I did not get tired, I would have been there to pray to the Lord and hope our nation would be spared from hurricanes and all the other ravages and also protect our people, and to make our community a better place for of us to live.”
The programme’s humorist must have been Mr Elton Marcus Hull, who when asked if he attended, blurted out: “I can say Stanley, I pray every day. I do not need Mr Parry or anybody else to tell me to pray. What I am praying for Stanley?” That is a severe case of ‘Doctor, heal thyself’ syndrome.
However, the sad part of it was when Mr Theodore Hobson took it up himself to hurl unsubstantiated accusations at members of the Nevisian clergy by stating that many of them were paid advisors of government and were being used to cover up for government by holding the service.
“Many of the pastors are of course either advisors or are people connected with the government and collecting vast sums of money in remuneration and so forth,” said Mr Hobson. “They are interested in trying to cover it over with a church service.”
According to Mr Hobson, who is a former chairman of the Concerned Citizens Movement when it was the party in government, the church is becoming less and less important or relevant because of the activities of the members of the clergy.
The CCM has failed Nevisians after it would have been given the chance to mend broken fences but stubbornly turned it down. They have refused to learn from Jesus Christ who demonstrated that he had no time for tribal politics of His day by asking for a drink of water from a Samaritan woman when Jews were not supposed to mix with the Samaritans.