By Henry R. Moncur III | ACTU Communication
Under the theme Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, members throughout the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) joined hands across three countries to bring awareness to the issue of violence and to speak with one voice to say “enditnow.” The enditnow weekend activities, organized by the Women’s Ministries Department of ATCU, connected members in ATCU with hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists, persons of other faiths, and non-faith persons to find solutions to this worldwide concern of violence. The weekend of activities included an online union-wide virtual service and in-person church worship services, motorcades, marches, and rallies within the four conferences in the territory of ATCU.
Enditnow is a global initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church launched in 2009 to raise awareness about and advocate for the end of violence around the world. Enditnow® is the most important stand the Seventh-day Adventist Church has ever taken regarding violence against men, women, and children; and it aims to mobilize Seventh-day Adventists around the world while inviting other community groups to unite with them to bring an end to violence.
An annual initiative, enditnow’s focus this year were those who harm others while claiming to be followers of Jesus. “Often, we think abuse only involves violence,” noted Arleen Sands, ATCU Women’s Ministries director. “Abuse also occurs when a person uses power of influence to take advantage of someone. We are burdened because abuse still exists and is on the increase in our territory. Yet, we are determined to allow our voices to be heard.”
On Friday, August 25, 2023, the ATCU territory came together in a livestreamed virtual service that included The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Pastor Peter Kerr, ATCU president, highlighted the need for the voices of the Adventist church to be heard on this critical initiative, not only at this time of the year but throughout the year. “The church is making its voice heard and presence felt in the community, and we are happy for the opportunity to add our voices with that of others in condemnation of this evil that has plagued the human race for years and brought immense suffering to innocent victims. We are united in condemning any form of abuse wherever it raises its head. We are united in our appeal to practice the golden rule, that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and saying a big no to violence and abuse in any form,” he said.
Dr. Charmaine Hippolyte Emmanuel, acting permanent secretary at the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment for the Government of St. Lucia, was the guest speaker at the online service. She implored those tuning into the various social media platforms to be mindful of the increased damage that is done when one who takes on the name Christian inflicts harm on another. “When abuse is perpetrated by a Christian…the damage is greater. It will cause one to question the spiritual belief or even their faith,” she observed. Dr. Emmanuel further challenged the church to take action against violence. “We need to go out on the streets. Hit the airwaves and speak against domestic violence. We need to be in readiness to offer support to persons who are in pain and support the kinds of [anti-violence] campaigns that go around.”
Adventist members and their friends and supporters participated in marches, motorcades, and rallies held on Saturday, August 26, 2023, in the three island nations of the Atlantic Caribbean region: The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
At the rally In the South Bahamas Conference, the president of the Senate of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, LaShelle Adderley, was in attendance along with Mrs. Anne-Marie Davis, head of the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister, who was the featured speaker. Mrs. Davis challenged those present to look out for wolves in sheep’s clothing “who are often abusers [and] use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation techniques to keep victims under control.”
Over in the Cayman Islands Conference, Carol Robinson and Annakay Miller, social workers from the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre and the Department of Children and Family Services, shared vital information on how to detect and prevent abuse among children. In Bodden Town, Cayman Islands, social workers, Kernita Bailey and Kai Matthews–Mowatt, did an enactment of a true story told from the perspective of a child who was abused. They also shared tips with parents on how they could be vigilant in detecting and reporting abuse. Ingrid Miller, a survivor of domestic violence, shared her poignant story of abuse and how she was able to break free from the violence she experienced at the hands of her own husband, while Elodie Jackson shared how songs helped her to heal after her young son was murdered by a family member.
Additionally, during the weekend, two significant events that reflect the determination of individuals to actively get involved in stopping the violence were noted to have taken place since the 2022 enditnow activities. First, according to Mrs. Sands, three sisters created Lean On Me Sisters, a nonprofit safe haven created to help countless women and children in communities. The organization seeks to listen, provide a safe space, and change how the world sees domestic violence. Second, during his remarks at the rally in the North Bahamas Conference, Senator Kirkland Russell noted that since he spoke at the 2022 enditnow rally, the Government of The Bahamas passed the Protection Against Violence Bill in the House of Assembly. While Russell noted that it is not a finished deal and there is more work to be done, he congratulated the Adventists on the work done to highlight this issue and implored them to continue working hard to bring awareness to this bold initiative to eradicate violence against all persons.
Plans are already underway to organize the next enditnow awareness campaign, while ensuring that persons know there are safe spaces and key resources available to assist with needed support. As one rally participant noted, “There is hope, there is healing, and there is help; and we want persons to know that they can find it in our church and the various civic organizations in each country.”
With a membership of 27,352, ATCU, which is headquartered in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas, comprises four fields, namely, the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference. In addition, Northern Caribbean University, which is in Mandeville, Jamaica, is jointly owned and operated by ATCU and the Jamaica Union.