"Government should not mandate the church to pray"
Newsmaker of the Week: Pastor Randy Rodney
Over the past few days, many Dominicans bowed their heads, got down on their knees, or rolled their rosary and joined in the three days of prayer and fasting held from Friday 25th June to Sunday 27th June.
Organized by the Government of Dominica, Minister of Governance, Public Service Reform, Citizen Empowerment, Social Justice, and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Gretta Roberts highlighted that the occasion was a mark of reflection and thanksgiving, as to acknowledge that God has indeed been good to us.
"The government of the Commonwealth of Dominica is mindful of the goodness and mercies of God to us as a people, not only in preserving us during the Covid-19 Pandemic but also for his constant help and protection during all our many endeavours in the past," she stated.
While many nationals heeded the call from the Government to pray for protection during the hurricane season and the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a spirit of unity, brotherhood, and togetherness for the nation, others such as Pastor Randy Rodney made it known that Government should not mandate the church to pray and that the church should not be praying, simply because any prime minister says so.
Pastor Rodney said: "When people come to a place where they think there is a need for prayer without a relationship with God for the purpose of setting one's own agenda this is frightening."
He says this effort in trying to make God the errand boy, by telling God what they think should be done, is also cause for concern.
That controversial event kicked off from noon on Friday with Evangelist Peter R Augustine at the Dominica Broadcasting Service (DBS) Radio for the hour of prayer, then at 3 pm with Pastor Benjamin. On Saturday at 9 am, with the 1 hour of prayer by Pastor Leroy Hill, at noon Pastor Thomas, then finally with Pastor Andrew at 3 pm.
This prayer and fasting session culminated with a thanksgiving mass or service on Saturday 26th, June or Sunday 27th June depending on one's day of worship.
As for Rodney, he says he is not at all surprised that he was not invited to the prayer sessions as the reality of the situation is that one cannot pretend to be calling unity, all the while behaving in exactly the opposite manner.
"There are some things I don't get invited to and some people have to tell me why. It doesn't bother me because like I said I will only do what the Lord wants me to do. I do not get involved in enhancing or bolstering political parties. I am one of those who will stand by the scripture, by righteousness, by truth and by justice and by what God wants me to do," he said.
The Sun has also received a copy of a letter sent by Pastor Rodney to the Ecclesiastical Affairs Minister.
In the letter dated June 21, 2021, he emphasised that at the start of the COVID19 pandemic the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches (DAEC) called the nation to prayer and had the Prime Minister provide an update especially since this was done on all media in Dominica.
"As a church, we and I are sure the other Evangelical churches, have already committed the nation to the Lord since the start of the Hurricane Season and believe God for His will in our lives," the letter stated.
It further noted that the correspondence and the accompanying actions by the Government have prompted serious concerns "to me and I am sure several Church leaders."
Rodney strongly condemned the Government asking the nation to pray for projects including the International Airport and stressed that while there have been calls for togetherness, the Prime Minister called for people to come to the signing ceremony of the most significant national project since independence in their red regalia, which he alluded further divided the people on a critical national issue.
"I am sure that you will agree Madame Minister that we must not approach God expecting Him to bless what He would not condone. Therefore, these matters need to be addressed in the light of approaching God for the nation since we are reminded from Scripture that "righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people," he wrote.
For the avoidance of doubt, he said, he welcomed the international airport but stated that all effort must be exerted to ensure that we return this nation to righteousness, justice, fairness and that will engender togetherness even when we disagree with the methods used.